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Postie slams Catlins' roads
An accident waiting to happen: The state of the gravel roads to popular tourist destinations in
the Catlins is worrying postie Syd Stronach.
Photo: BRIDGET RAILTON 627828428
What do you think of the state of parts of
the Catlins Coastal Heritage route?
Is it like driving on marbles, as postman
Syd Stronach suggests?
What should be done about it? Have you
had an accident on it?
Email email@example.com or
comment on: facebook.com/
A Tokanui local, fed up with the state of
gravel roads, says it's only a matter of
time before someone is killed or
Postie Syd Stronach, who has had the
rural mail run for more than a decade,
said the condition of parts of the Catlins
Coastal Heritage route, in conjunction
with drivers being unfamiliar with
gravel roads, is an accident waiting to
''It's a tourist road, yet we are expecting
them to drive on (conditions like) ball
bearings or marbles. It's not on,'' he said.
''Imagine coming here from New York or
China or Japan?''
The 30km gravel stretch between
Tokanui and Curio Bay via Slope Point is
causing issues for users.
Because of increased use, the road's
condition had deteriorated quickly, he
said, leaving deep ruts and corrugations
which people had to navigate to reach
popular tourist spots such as Slope Point.
Vehicles frequently drove on the wrong
side of the road to avoid the worst areas
Mr Stronach said.
There were three roads in particular:
Slope Point, Otara-Haldane and Curio-
Haldane that were causing headaches for
drivers, he said.
''A lot times there's been vehicles come
off the road and farmers have to pull
them back on . . . trucks and campervans
get stuck going up hills.''
Most of these accidents were small and
went unreported therefore the council
was unaware of the scale of the issue, he
said. But it shouldn't take a fatal accident
to get noticed.
''We don't want to lose a life.''
Mr Stronach, who has lived around the
Catlins his whole life, is no stranger to
campaigning for better roads after being
a key player in getting the road sealed
along the Southern Scenic Route near
Papatowai in the early 2000s.
He said council budgets were stretched
thin already and in order for any
progress to be made, they would need to
Concerns about the effect a sealed road
would have on the remoteness of the
Catlins were valid but he wasn't looking
to build a racetrack, he said.
''A good gravel road is preferable to a
poor sealed one . . . the issue is safety.''
''If we don't squeal and let people know,
it's not going to get fixed. We've (council
and locals) got to bark together and bark
''John Key is the Minister for Tourism.
He has a responsibility to make sure
maintenance comes down here and looks
after this area.''
Interested people and Southland District
Council staff met near Tokanui yesterday
to discuss options.
Grant to help
with day care
Community Trust of
Southland chief executive
Talk about a big
centre has got
from the Com-
munity Trust of
has approved a
$5000 grant for the
yet to be opened
The money will be
spent on equipment and other resources at the
Hope Education Trust, which aims to provide
education opportunities in the Mataura
community, starting with the early childhood
Hope Trust spokeswoman Lisa Thomas said a
resource consent application to operate the
preschool from the Mataura Christian Church
building is being considered by the Gore
The centre would offer full day care for up to 20
preschoolers aged from 3 to 5 years old,
meaning working parents would no longer
need to travel to Gore for childcare, she said.
''We are very grateful for the support shown by
the Community Trust.''
Community Trust of Southland chief executive
John Prendergast knows supporting Mataura's
new early childhood centre would be important
for the community.
He said 2010 Ministry of Education statistics
showed only 76.2 per cent of Mataura's
preschoolers participated in early childhood
education, compared to the national average of
94.5 per cent.
''The trust believes its grant will assist to
ensure our community has good access to
education,'' he said.
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