NZTA warns holiday motorists to plan for SH6 disruption

by Kim Bowden - Apr 12, 2024

STORY UPDATED 4.30PM as NZTA announces an earlier than scheduled reopening of the road linking Otago and the West Coast.

The severe rain may have moved north but several of the region's roads, including a chunk of the main highway linking Otago to the West Coat, will take a bit of recovering, as the New Zealand Transport Agency warns school holiday motorists to plan for journey disruptions.

State highway 6 between Makarora and Ross was closed overnight Thursday due to fallen trees, a damaged bridge approach, rising creek and river levels, and slips.

Now, after a huge effort by contractors throughout the day, NZTA says the road, a vital link between Otago and the West Coast, will be reopened in full from 6pm (Friday, April 12).

However, motorists can expect delays of up to 30 minutes on the section of highway between Fox Glacier township and Franz Josef.

The issue is with a culvert at Smithy's Creek, where creek flows in recent days have breached the southern approach.

While the roading authority had originally indicated the issue would see the road between the two glacier towns closed for at least the weekend, work today to apply a temporary road surface has expedited the opening.

“Crews started the temporary repair as soon as rain abated earlier today and, with the creek level dropping, they were able to better assess what needed to be done. In this case we were lucky, the damage caused was not as bad as we had feared when the creek was overtopping the area,” says Mark Pinner, the system manager for NZTA for Canterbury and the West Coast.

“A rock bench under the road has meant the scour of the approach was not as severe as originally anticipated, and we have been  able to get a single lane, temporary road through today.”

The crew will be on site on Saturday and then on Monday to begin a more permanent fix, he says.

NZTA warns the road will be kept open subject to weather and could close at any time until the permanent repair is completed.

Travellers need to build in time on for any journey between Haast and Hokitika this weekend and for the next few weeks given the work to come, Mr Pinner says.

Earlier today NZTA thanked travellers for amending their plans at the outset of the school holidays around the earlier highway closures.

Closer to home, the Queenstown Lakes District Council has reopened Kinloch Road this morning after closing it during Thursday's deluge due to flooding, while Mount Aspiring Road remains closed.

In its last update for Thursday, as rain was still falling in the district, a QLDC advisory said, "Mt Aspiring Road is now closed at the Treble Cone turn off".

"The river is now higher than the road with a culvert back-flowing causing further flooding. This is around the 32.5-kilometre mark at the ‘cattle-flat’ area, hence the road closure being bought back to Treble Cone.

"Work will be required on this road once the water level drops and hence drivers should expect it to remain closed tomorrow morning."

A road snow warning for the Crown Range was also issued overnight, with many in the district waking to see fresh snow on the hills.

Main images (Supplied/NZTA): Crews are assessing and cleaning up State Highway 6, which links Otago to the West Coast (Photo on right shows road conditions during warning-level rain on Thursday, April 11, 2024; photo on left shows work underway on repairs at Smithy's Creek on Friday, April 12, 2024).

Support Crux Support Crux