“Massive” slip keeps South Island Road closed

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 24, 2023 |

The Haast Pass link between the South Island’s West Coast and Otago/ Queenstown is remaining closed this weekend due to the massive amount of slip material needing to be removed at Muddy Creek bridge and either side of it, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. 

“The SH6 route has been closed since Thursday morning’s torrential rain when an overflow of spill north of Makarora flooded the highway for up to a kilometre at Muddy Creek,” says Robert Choveaux, System Manager for Southland and Otago for Waka Kotahi.

“We estimate at least 20,000 cubic metres of material will be trucked from the highway to stockpile points before we can fully re-open this highway,” he says. “At the bridge itself the material is up to four metres deep and with the combination of snow in recent days has turned concrete-like. Water is continuing to flow over the bridge mound of material.” (See photos below)

  • The next update on the likely timing for an opening, even a short or escorted convoy opening, will be around midday Monday 25 September.

With SH6 closed at Muddy Creek, people in South Westland have a nine-hour-plus journey to get to Queenstown via SH6 to the north, SH73 Arthur’s Pass and the southern highways from Christchurch.

“We understand the inconvenience this represents for hospitality providers in South Westland and Queenstown Lakes District, particularly at the start of the school holidays,” says Mr Choveaux. “Crews are working extremely hard in a restricted, narrow strip of road to get this part of the Haast Pass back to two lanes and something like normal services restored this coming week. 

“Both West Coast and Central Otago highway maintenance crews have been working at the site, with the Otago Aspiring Highways crew working today and into the new week.

Machinery operators on two excavators, two loaders, five trucks and a bulldozer are continuing to make inroads to the material on the highway to get to the bridge deck itself. It is a huge job.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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