August 22, 2008

Residents May Be Hoarding Petrol

By FRASER, Bruce om Te Anau

MILFORD SOUND residents could be hoarding petrol as the shortage in the remote community bites.

Allied Petroleum ceased selling petrol from its self-service pumps at Milford on August 1 after its eftpos card readers were superseded by a new, more expensive unit. The company said the outlet's low sales did not justify the upgrade.

One resident said he believed tourism industry workers were already bringing containers of petrol into Milford and storing them at their quarters -- a practice he said was unsafe.

For a long time residents had used their own cards to help out stranded tourists who had only cash, or the wrong kind of card.

The alternative was to call a rescue truck with petrol from Te Anau.

With no sales available the problem would only worsen.

"It's a bad advertisement for Milford," the man said.

Another tourism worker said people made a point of filling their car whenever they visited Te Anau, and others made the trip to Hollyford Camp to fuel up. Everyone was taking care to minimise driving while in Milford, although the village was so small that driving was hardly necessary, the man said.

His company relied on diesel vehicles, which could still fill up at Milford Sound, he said.

Milford Sound Development Authority operations manager Andrew Welsh said his own organisation's truck ran on petrol. "It's already caused a few issues." The authority had a fuel store where it could legally hold 30L of petrol, "but in a truck 30L doesn't take you far." He said the authority was talking with Transit NZ and Downer EDI about changing an information sign near Te Anau from "limited fuel available" to "no fuel available" .

Caltex Te Anau owner Stephen Stock said sending a staff member on the 234km return journey to Milford Sound with a supply of fuel for a stranded traveller would cost about $400.

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