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by Al Williams

Mackenzie’s main tourist routes are being re-labelled as the district’s reputation with international visitors grows.
The section of State Highway 8 between Fairlie and Twizel, and State Highway 80 between Lake Pukaki and Aoraki Mt Cook, have been designated as The Starlight Highway, the Mackenzie District Council has confirmed.
The proposal had been in the pipeline for several years, having first been raised by previous Mackenzie mayor Claire Barlow after inquiries from the public, council asset manager Bernie Haar said.
“We have now come up with [a] proposal (see image) that has been bought about by our current Mayor, Graham Smith, and has been sent to the NZ Transport Agency for their consideration,” Mr Haar said.
It was proposed that several signs would be installed, one either side of the Tekapo township, one on the northeast Twizel boundary, one on the west side of Fairlie township and one at either end of the Aoraki/Mt Cook Rd (SH80).
“Once we receive an outcome from NZTA, we will discuss with the local highways team about installing this signage,” Mr Haar said.
Mr Smith said the signage had been approved in principle by NZTA and the council was awaiting final approval.
An NZTA spokeswoman said the agency was in the process of providing feedback to the council on the look of the signs while the council would be providing a plan on possible locations to the NZTA.