Evacuations are underway on New Zealand’s south island where tourists have been stranded after severe flooding and heavy rain.
- A landslide hit Howden Hut, leaving two people with minor injuries
- Almost 200 tourists in Milford Sound will remain there until tomorrow due to road closures
- Helicopter pilots have started airlifting people from huts on various walking tracks
TVNZ reported a landslide hit the Howden Hut, near Fiordland’s Lake Howden, at 1:30am (local time), leaving two people with minor injuries.
Emergency Management Southland said 31 people at the site were safe and awaiting evacuation.
Emergency Management Southland controller Angus McKay said the priority today was getting those 31 people out, as well as others at other huts on various tracks.
A state of emergency was declared on Monday as 382 people were trapped in the Fiordland region, including visitors and staff at a lodge and on tourist boats.
“They have plenty of food and are safe and warm,” Mr McKay said on Monday.
OTAGO / SOUTHLAND – ROAD CLOSURES Due to heavy rain, there are currently many closures throughout the Otago & Southland regions. Please restrict your travel if possible, or drive to the conditions. Keep an eye on current road conditions here.
Torrential rains causing slips and flooding damage have also cut road access to the popular tourist destination for several days.
Today, helicopter pilots also started evacuating people from huts in Hollyford, Pyke, Big Bay and Martin’s Bay.
About 100 people are believed stranded at those walking tracks.
There are another 195 tourists in Milford Sound who will remain there until tomorrow.
“Weather conditions and road closures mean it is best to keep the tourists in Milford until they can be safely transported out,” Emergency Management Southland wrote on Facebook.
“Meanwhile, roads are closed throughout Southland and rivers are rising.”
More heavy rain is on the way and the state highway is expected to remain closed all week.
The spectacular fjord on the west coast of the south island was carved out by ancient glaciers and features towering mountains, waterfalls, and rare marine habitats.