Southern roads: Now flooding, next snow

by Kim Bowden - Apr 11, 2024

UPDATE 2PM: State Highway 6 between Makarora and Haast will close overnight from 7pm (Thursday), with a review planned for 10am Friday, due to surface flooding, ongoing torrential rain, and high creek levels.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has closed several roads across the district in response to flooding from heavy rain, while the New Zealand Transport Authority grapples with washouts, slips and surface water on its West Coast highway.

The road closures come as MetService issues a fresh lot of weather warnings, including road snow alerts in the south.

At approximately 10am the QDLC issued an alert that Mount Aspiring Road, out from Wānaka, had been closed at Glenfinnan Bluffs.

"Heavy rain has made this section of road impassable," the council says in its advisory.

"Contractors will not be able to assess the damage to the road until the river has dropped."

Also closed for now, Kinloch Road, out from Glenorchy at the head of Lake Whakatipu, with an update on its status expected at 1pm.

This morning MetService issued a road snow warning for the Crown Range for the seven hours from 2am to 9am Friday.

"Snow is expected to affect the road overnight Thursday and early Friday morning. Two to four centimetres of snow may settle on the road above 700 metres," it says.

Snow is also predicted to fall on the Milford Road overnight, with the possibility of four to eight centimetres settling above 800 metres.

The national forecaster is also predicting more rain to fall in the Otago headwaters - another 100 to 150 millimetres about the main divide and 50 to 100 millimetres within 15 kilometres further east - with peak rates of 15 to 25 millimetres of rain an hour expected, as well as on the already saturated West Coast.

"Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are possible and driving conditions may be hazardous," it says in its warning.


The New Zealand Transport Agency says due to a washout State Highway 6 between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier is closed and will remain so over the weekend.

"Creek flows have breached the southern approach at the Smithy’s Creek box culvert overnight Wednesday with the continuous heavy rain. Rain is forecast to continue all day today with periods of intense showers overnight again Thursday night,” Moira Whinham, the maintenance contract manager for NZTA on the West Coast says.

"While the rain continues to fall, crews are limited to minimising further damage and a full assessment of the damage at Smithy’s Creek will occur tomorrow (Friday) morning."

Further south, slips and toppled trees have also closed the highway from Fox Glacier to Haast, with heavy rain and high winds forecast to continue, and the status of this section of road will be reviewed on Friday.

State Highway 6 at Smithy's Creek between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef, April 11, 2024 (Supplied/NZTA).

Meanwhile the authority has re-opened the highway from Haast to Makarora after closing it overnight, however there remains some flooding and motorists are being advised to proceed with caution.

Miss Whinham says the rain is forecast to ease over the weekend and crews are on standby to start repairs as soon as conditions are safe for them to do so, however school holidaymakers are being warned to plan their trips with State Highway 6 closures in mind.

State Highway 6 is the only road link from Hokitika to Haast and beyond to Otago.

  • People can get to Franz Josef from the HariHari/Hokitika/northern side. There is surface flooding throughout the area, which is signposted
  • Fox Glacier is effectively cut off on both sides, north and south
  • Access to Haast is available from the south

Main image (Facebook/NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi - Canterbury & West Coast): Washouts, slips and surface flooding is impacting State Highway 6 between Makarora and Franz Josef, with sections of the road now closed, Thursday, April 11, 2024.

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