4 Dec 2012

Backer found for Fiordland toll road

12:03 am on 4 December 2012

A proposal for what would be New Zealand's first private toll road, through the middle of a national park, has received overseas financial backing of $220 million.

Westland District Property Ltd, a subsidiary of Westland District Council, says backers it cannot name have agreed to design and build a highway from Haast to Hollyford, and operate it for the first 30 years.

Company chairman Durham Havill says the road would bypass Queenstown and go through Fiordland National Park, providing a more direct link from the West Coast to Milford Sound.

Mr Havill says the road could cut 355km from the journey, bring more tourism to the West Coast, and be a cheaper way to do a circuit of the South Island taking in Milford Sound.

He says a $20 toll would be charged and after 30 years it the road would be transferred to council ownership.

Mr Havill says he and two other directors of Westland Property Ltd will be talking later this month with those likely to be affected by the plan. He says he can't name the backer, because of a confidentiality agreement.

A spokesperson for lobby group Not For Sale, Robert Krausz,says he's uneasy about the need for secrecy.

He says if there's nothing wrong with the plan, the financier should be happy to have their identity out in the open.