The access road to Fox Glacier will remain closed indefinitely after a report found it impractical to re-establish road access into the valley since its February closure.

The access road, which leads to Te Moeka o Tuawe off State Highway 6, has been closed since it was flooded for the third time in as many months.

An engineering report commissioned by the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Transport Agency estimated it would cost $16 million to fix.

However, it warned the road would likely be "overwhelmed" within years by ongoing sediment build-up in the valley.


The country's largest active slip, known as the Alpine Gardens Landslide, destroyed the access road after more flooding the next month, sending tons of rock and gravel crashing into the Fox valley below.

The report could find no practical solution to stop the massive landslide.

The Waiho River Bridge was also washed away. Photo / Supplied
The Waiho River Bridge was also washed away. Photo / Supplied

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said today $3.9 million from the International Visitor Tourism and Conservation Levy would be spent developing visitor experiences around Fox Glacier, inlcuding redesigning access to the glacier by foot and cycle and reopening the coastal walkway to Galway Beach as part of the Government's plan for sustainable tourism.

A day walk to Lake Gault will be developed with help from Ngāi Tahu and Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio, offering more walking options at Lake Matheson.

The trail from Fox Glacier township to Lake Matheson will be extended and it will be easier to access Peak Viewpoint for views of the Southern Alps.

Davis said early investment meant much of the work could begin immediately.

"Tourism is important to the West Coast and we're committed to ensuring that tourism continues to benefit communities, visitors and the environment long into the future," he said.

DoC South Westland operations manager Wayne Costello said DoC was working with the community and iwi to minimise the effects of the closure.


The Fox Glacier/Weheka township is still open for business.

Visitors can still see the glacier up close via helicopter glacier trips and scenic flights.

Nearby Franz Josef Glacier is still open.