23 Mar 2010

Trampers evacuated from Fiordland tracks

10:41 pm on 23 March 2010

Stranded trampers were airlifted off Milford Track in the South Island, after a storm on Tuesday washed out bridges and blew down trees.

The Department of Conservation co-ordinated the evacuation of the 120 trampers, as well as the airlift of 20 people off the Routeburn Track.

DoC's Te Anau visitor centre manager, Ross Kerr, says the airlift went smoothly.

A southerly blast tore through Fiordland on Monday, prompting the Department of Conservation to tell trampers to remain in huts.

The storm brought gale-force winds, widespread lightning strikes, and slips to the area.

The storm also closed State Highway 94, the Milford Road, with the Transport Agency trying to clear two slips.

The agency says about 100 people in campervans and buses are stuck in Milford and the priority is to open a single lane to allow people out of the area.

The agency hopes the Milford Road will be reopened by Wednesday.