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SH3 Manawatu Gorge

Updated: 2 April 2013

The NZTA are pleased to advise that State Highway 3 (SH3) through the Manawatu Gorge is now open to all vehicles in both directions, 24/7. The NZTA thanks the people of Manawatu - and everyone else who was affected - for being so patient during this lengthy closure.

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Manawatu Gorge.

Manawatu Gorge.

That's all, folks - Manawatu Gorge recovery effort officially finished

16 November 2012

The NZ Transport Agency have announced that work to restore State Highway 3 at the Manawatu Gorge following last year's mammoth slip is completed.

Media releases

One last coat of asphalt before crews pack up at the Gorge
9 November 2012
The NZ Transport Agency advises motorists that there may be some delays on State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge next week, but there's good news as well - once the roadworks are out of the way, the Gorge recovery effort will be completely finished.

Manawatu Gorge to be closed for rock blasting on Wednesday 31 October
29 October 2012
The NZ Transport Agency advises motorists that the Manawatu Gorge will be closed during the daytime on Wednesday to allow for rock blasting.

Crews ticking off the final tasks at the Gorge
15 October 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says ancillary works at the State Highway 3 Manawatu Gorge slip site are continuing to progress well, with rock bolting now completed and traffic flowing smoothly through the site.

Life returning to normal at the Manawatu Gorge
21 September 2012
Life is returning to normal on State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge, with traffic flowing smoothly after two days of two-lane operation.

Manawatu Gorge now open for everyone
19 September 2012
More relief is at hand for Manawatu motorists. The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge is opening up to all traffic at all times, although some onsite restrictions will remain.

Structures complete as gorge work enters final sprint
7 September 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the new road structures at the Manawatu Gorge are substantially complete, and work is entering its closing stages as the highway looks set to reopen to two lanes in the next month.

NZTA aiming for two-way traffic through Gorge by end of September
31 August 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the new section of highway at the Manawatu Gorge is operating smoothly, and it expects to open the road to two way operation by the end of September.

Good news for Manawatu motorists - Gorge set to partially reopen
28 August 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has announced that the Gorge will partially reopen just in time for spring, with motorists set to be waved through tomorrow evening.

Nearly there - Manawatu Gorge to partially reopen next week
24 August 2012
Relief is just around the corner for Manawatu motorists, with the NZ Transport Agency confirming today that it expects to reopen the Manawatu Gorge to one lane mid to late next week.

NZTA gorge crews set sights on partial reopening by end of August
17 August 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says crews at the Manawatu Gorge have enjoyed a productive week rebuilding the highway and are now pushing for one lane to be reopened at the end of the month.

NZTA prepares for two-phased Gorge reopening next month
10 August 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says crews are close to laying down the new road surface on the rebuilt section of road at the Manawatu Gorge, and the countdown has begun for a two-phased reopening of the road in September.

Gorge rebuild entering final stages despite deluge
3 August 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the rebuilding of the Manawatu Gorge highway is entering its final stages, with work progressing strongly despite a deluge of rain over the last week.

All go at the Gorge as re-opening within sight
30 July 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the Manawatu Gorge is on track to re-open in a little over a month, with crews continuing to work 24/7 and the rebuilding of the highway remaining well on track for an early September opening.

Bridge taking shape at the Manawatu Gorge
20 July 2012
The new bridge at the Manawatu Gorge are taking shape quickly, with the NZ Transport Agency remaining on track for a permanent re-opening of the Manawatu Gorge in early September.

Crews knuckle down to get Gorge open for good
12 July 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says bridge crews are working hard at the Manawatu Gorge to establish a permanent route following the loss of the temporary road last week to flooding.

Flooding forces full closure of Manawatu Gorge
6 July 2012
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Manawatu Gorge will be closed until further notice as rising river levels have caused significant erosion which has severely damaged the temporary road through the gorge, making it unusable for vehicles.

Two day closure for Gorge to move temporary road
29 June 2012
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Manawatu Gorge will be closed for two days to allow crews to move the temporary road to a more resilient location.

Temporary road through gorge passes first weather test
22 June 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the temporary road through the Manawatu Gorge has stood up well to its first big test from the weather this week.

Motorists enjoy extended Gorge opening hours as construction ramps up
15 June 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the one-lane operation at the Manawatu Gorge continues to flow nicely, with drivers taking advantage of extended opening hours for two-way traffic while bridge reconstruction work ramps up around them.

NZTA extends Manawatu Gorge opening hours
8 June 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has extended the opening hours for two-way operation of the temporary road through the Manawatu Gorge, following a successful first week of operation.

24 hours on - it's all good at the Gorge
1 June 2012
24 hours after its partial reopening yesterday, traffic is continuing to flow smoothly through the State Highway 3 Manawatu Gorge.

Manawatu Gorge temporary road now open
31 May 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has reopened the Manawatu Gorge to one-way traffic from Woodville to Ashhurst, the first time the gorge has been open to traffic since August.

NZTA to open Manawatu Gorge to one-way traffic tomorrow
30 May 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has announced that it expects to reopen State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge to one-way traffic tomorrow afternoon.

Manawatu Gorge partial reopening expected in time for Queens Birthday
28 May 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has announced it expects to reopen the Manawatu Gorge to one lane of traffic this Thursday 31 May, just in time for Queens Birthday weekend.

Partial Manawatu Gorge reopening nears as temporary road takes shape
25 May 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says crews are making strong progress building a temporary road at the Manawatu Gorge slips site in preparation for the road to be partially reopened next week.

NZTA delighted with response to Gorge open day
21 May 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has thanked the public after yesterday's charity open day at the Manawatu Gorge raised close to $5,000 for the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.

Public invited to Charity Open Day at the Manawatu Gorge this Sunday
15 May 2012
The public will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk along part of State Highway 3 and see the Manawatu Gorge slip site up close, with a charity open day being held this Sunday (20 May) in support of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.

Traffic to return to the Manawatu Gorge as NZTA plans controlled reopening
10 May 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says that it is aiming to reopen State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge by the end of May, although full two way unrestricted operation is still likely to be around four months away.

NZTA works to expose damaged bridges at Manawatu Gorge
27 April 2012
The NZTA says the Manawatu Gorge slip is down to one sixth its original size as crews prepare for the task of assessing the damage of the road and bridges.

Manawatu Gorge slip down to a fraction its original size
19 April 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the Manawatu Gorge slip is now less than one-third of its original size thanks to 24/7 carting operations, but there is still work ahead of crews before the highway can be reopened.

24/7 clearing back on at the gorge
13 April 2012
Trucks are once again carting away slip debris round the clock, and NZTA Palmerston North state highways manager David McGonigal says this has led to another week of excellent progress clearing the gorge.

Gorge slip shrinking despite minor setback
5 April 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says following some very productive days of slip-clearing operations, work carting slip material has experienced a minor setback following onsite safety concerns, although the gorge is still marching on towards a mid-year opening.

Night shifts clock in as NZTA launches 24/7 assault on Gorge slip
30 Mar 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says work clearing the gorge will ramp up to 24/7 operation as of tonight following the completion of benching operations.

Manawatu Gorge still on track for mid-year reopening
23 Mar 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says sound progress at the gorge means the Agency's hopes of a mid-year opening remain on track, although there's still a fair bit of work to go.

Work nearly finished on fifth and final Gorge bench
16 Mar 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says road crews have nearly finished work on the fifth and final bench at the Manawatu Gorge, as a convoy of trucks makes inroads into the slip material beneath.

Gorge work soldiers on despite brush with weather bomb
9 Mar 2012
Work on the Manawatu Gorge slip has returned to business as usual after its brush with last weekend's weather bomb.

NZTA underway on fifth and final bench at Manawatu Gorge
2 Mar 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has started work on the fifth bench at the Manawatu Gorge slip site, and has determined that it will be the final bench before work begins clearing the slip and repairing the road and bridges beneath the slip material.

Gorge crews defy weather to close in on fifth bench
24 Feb 2012
Despite a week of challenging weather conditions at the Manawatu Gorge, the fourth bench at the massive slip site is nearly finished, and crews are expected the begin work on the milestone fifth bench next week.

Gorge cleanup effort poised to hit six month mark
17 Feb 2012
The NZ Transport Agency is close to beginning work on the pivotal fifth bench as State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge approaches an unprecedented six months of closure.

Crews well underway on fourth gorge bench
10 Feb 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says the fourth bench is well underway at the Manawatu Gorge, as crews slog increasingly closer to the pivotal fifth bench.

NZTA announces estimated gorge reopening timeframe
1 Feb 2012
The NZ Transport Agency has announced that the Manawatu Gorge will remain closed until mid-year to enable crews to complete a thorough job of safely securing and clearing the massive slip site.

Gorge crews uncovering more rock on the slope
27 Jan 2012
The NZ Transport Agency says crews at the Manawatu Gorge are striking increasing amounts of rock at the slip site, and a big job remains ahead shifting the rock and completing the benching.

NZTA making strong progress on Gorge benching
10 January 2012
The NZ Transport Agency is closing in on the completion of the second bench at the Manawatu Gorge slip site, at which point machines will be fully committed to snaking their way down the slope until the benching is complete.

NZTA making steady progress on clearing the gorge
23 December 2011
The NZ Transport Agency continues to make excellent progress benching the Manawatu Gorge slip. Crews are working at both the top and bottom of the site, the first bench is finished and a second one is underway. And despite even more rain this week, 12,000 cubic meters of debris has been cleared from the bottom of the slip.

NZTA to attack gorge slip on two fronts before Xmas
16 December 2011
The NZ Transport Agency will be ramping up work at the Manawatu Gorge slip site just before Christmas, with crews working the slip from both top and bottom and a second bench due to begin next week.

Step by step as Gorge operation progresses
8 December 2011
The NZTA has made good progress on stabilising the Manawatu Gorge, with the benching operation at the top of the hillside already well underway.

NZTA recycling slip material for use in nearby road improvements
1 December 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is making good use of the material being cleared from the massive slip at the Manawatu Gorge, with a significant amount of the estimated 200,000 cubic metres of rock and dirt brought down in the slip likely to be recycled for use in nearby road works.

NZTA rolls in The Bandit
25 November 2011
NZ Transport Agency crews have finished cutting a path through dense bush to reach the top of the Manawatu gorge slip, and are clearing bush to establish a safe working platform for the earth moving equipment due to start benching (terracing) the slip early next week.

NZTA readies for top-down strike on Gorge slip site
18 November 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is making excellent progress with a track up to the crest of the Manawatu Gorge slip site, and heavy equipment is due to begin work next week attacking the unstable slope from the top down.

Changes to detour through Ashhurst to improve safety and congestion
15 November 2011
The NZ Transport Agency has made some changes to the posted Saddle Road detour route through Ashhurst to improve traffic flow and safety, and is thanking motorists and residents for their patience and understanding as the adjustments are made.

NZTA to take it from the top at Manawatu Gorge
10 November 2011
The NZ Transport Agency has announced the next phase of its plan of attack to secure the unstable hillside that has closed State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge for more than 80 days.

NZTA to begin traffic flow improvements to Saddle Road
4 November 2011
The NZ Transport Agency will begin upgrades of the Saddle Road on Monday to improve traffic flow for the thousands of motorists using the road as a detour during the closure of the Manawatu Gorge.

Diggers moving again at Manawatu Gorge
1 November 2011
Diggers are on the move again at the State Highway 3 Manawatu Gorge slip site after a period of settled weather enabled crews to return safely to the site.

NZTA developing plan of attack to clear gorge slip
28 October 2011
The NZ Transport Agency says it is developing a plan to stabilise the hillside and clear the massive slip that is blocking SH3 through the Manawatu Gorge as quickly and as safely as possible.

Heavy rain brings down further slip in Manawatu Gorge
18 October 2011
The NZ Transport Agency has confirmed that a further large slip has occurred on SH3 in the Manawatu Gorge at the same site which contractors have been working to clear for several weeks.

NZTA to take over Manawatu Gorge detour routes as closure extended
3 October 2011
The NZTA will be taking over control of the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track as the closure of the Manawatu Gorge looks set to continue for up to two months.

Travelling south to the game in Palmerston North? Leave time for Gorge detour
30 September 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists traveling south to the Argentina-Georgia game in Palmerston North on Sunday to add at least half an hour to their journey times due to the ongoing closure of the Manawatu Gorge.

NZTA advises Gorge unlikely to reopen before Napier game
23 September 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that as slips continue to fall in the Manawatu Gorge, people will need to allow extra time when traveling north to the Canada vs Japan match next Tuesday.

Heading to the Napier game? Allow extra time for Gorge closure
16 September 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists travelling north to the Canada vs France match in Napier this weekend to allow extra time due to the ongoing closure of the Manawatu Gorge from a massive slip last month.

Manawatu Gorge closure extended as stabilisation works continue
7 September 2011
State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge will remain closed for at least another week to enable the NZ Transport Agency to carry out more work stabilising the slope, after more loose material came down overnight.

Manawatu Gorge remains closed as crews work to stabilise slopes
5 September 2011
The NZTA advises motorists that State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge is likely to remain closed until at least Friday as contractors continue work on a large, unstable slip site.

NZTA aiming to reopen Manawatu Gorge early next week
26 August 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Manawatu Gorge is likely to remain closed until early next week.

Large slip closes Manawatu Gorge
19 August 2011
The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists that the Manawatu Gorge could be closed for around a week after a large slip came down last night following heavy rain.

Photographs and diagrams

They say a picture tells a thousand words, so have a look below at how far we've come. It's been hard yakka, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

31 August. Manawatu Gorge reopens to one lane

31 August.

31 August (click to see larger image).

31 August.

31 August (click to see larger image).

August 2012 work

24 August.

24 August (click to see larger image).

24 August.

24 August (click to see larger image).

24 August.

17 August (click to see larger image).

24 August.

17 August (click to see larger image).

10 August.

10 August (click to see larger image).

10 August.

10 August (click to see larger image).

10 August.

10 August (click to see larger image).

10 August.

10 August (click to see larger image).

3 August.

3 August (click to see larger image).

10 August.

3 August (click to see larger image).

The first two photos show the river before the storm event (July 2) and this morning.

July 2012 closure

River up.

River up (click to see larger image).

River up.

River up (click to see larger image).

The first two photos show the river before the storm event (July 2) and this morning.

The Manawatu river has risen to a level of around 8m at 7am this morning, with a peak around 8.6m expected at 1pm this afternoon. This is a substantial volume for the Manawatu River - with the SH56 Opiki floodway going over and the Motua Floodgates opening this morning too. We experience a flood of this size once every 2-3 years.

Evacuation of the working platform.

Evacuation of the working platform (click to see larger image).

Much of the machinery was evacuation to solid ground over night with crews active on site around mid-night. A second round of evacuation was completed this morning for remaining machinery and equipment due to continued erosion of our platform.

Slip face stable.

Slip face stable (click to see larger image).

The work above the road remains in place. There has been around 30ml of rain in the last 24hrs - the face has remained stable. The green is the hydroseeded grass that has struck.

Full site.

Full site (click to see larger image).

Full site.

Full site (click to see larger image).

These photos show the site before flooding (July 4) and this morning. The outer edge has been eroded by 10-15m throughout the length of the site.

Temporary road closed.

Temporary road closed (click to see larger image).

Temporary road closed.

Temporary road closed (click to see larger image).

The temporary road was relocated a further 5m away from the river earlier this week. This was to provide more resilience and increase the safety buffer out to 10m. This resilience would have been satisfactory for typical winter conditions with the river coming up and down to levels of around 2-4m heights. However at full flood level being experienced now, the river has claimed more width with the additional energy.

Benching progress

Pre-benching.

Pre-benching (click to see larger image).

Tracks and benches - 30 March 2012.

Tracks and benches - 30 March 2012 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Benching progress at 23 March 2012 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Benching progress at 14 March 2012 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Benching progress at 29 February 2012 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Working on the fourth bench - 1 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Working on the fourth bench - 2 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Working on the fourth bench - 3 (click to see larger image).

Manawatu Gorge slip benching progress.

Working on the fourth bench - 4 (click to see larger image).

What is benching?

You can see a 2-min video of the gorge (YouTube, 2min) here, with aerial shots of the slip and the benching work at the top.

Here is an explanation of the 'benching' (terracing) process we are using to stabilise the slip.

Engineers benching methodology, prior to benching, December 2011.

Engineers benching methodology, prior to benching, December 2011. (PDF, 1.66MB)

Engineers benching methodology, stage 1.

Engineers benching methodology, stage 1, December 2011. (PDF, 693KB)

Engineers benching methodology, stage 2.

Engineers benching methodology, stage 2, December 2011. (PDF, 694KB)

Engineers benching methodology, stage 3.

Engineers benching methodology, stage 3, December 2011. (PDF, 674KB)

Engineers benching methodology, stage 4.

Engineers benching methodology, stage 4, December 2011. (PDF, 400KB)

Engineers benching methodology, stage 5.

Engineers benching methodology, stage 5, December 2011. (PDF, 400KB)

The river is closed 200m either side of the slip and signs in place here and at either end of the gorge.

The slip face showing the access track. PNCC 10 December 2011. (JPG, 86KB)

The river is closed 200m either side of the slip and signs in place here and at either end of the gorge.

An oblique view of the excavation of the first bench. PNCC 10 December 2011. (JPG, 109KB)

The river is closed 200m either side of the slip and signs in place here and at either end of the gorge.

Two bulldozers and three long reach diggers excavating the first bench look like toys in a sandpit. PNCC 10 December 2011. ( JPG, 86KB)

The river is closed 200m either side of the slip and signs in place here and at either end of the gorge.

The river is closed 200m either side of the slip and signs in place here and at either end of the gorge. 2 December 2011. (JPG, 130KB)

The gorge slip and the river. 2.38pm 24 November 2011.

The flood line from last week can clearly be seen by the change in colour on the slope of the slip. (JPG, 130KB)

One of the three new passing lanes created on the Saddle Road finished this week. 24 Nov 2011

Tree fellling and scrub clearance at top of slip - looking out over Ashhurst. (JPG, 177KB)

The gorge slip and the river. 2.38pm 24 November 2011.

The gorge slip and the river. 2.38pm 24 November 2011. (JPG, 129KB)

One of the three new passing lanes created on the Saddle Road finished this week. 24 Nov 2011

One of the three new passing lanes created on the Saddle Road finished this week. 24 November 2011. (JPG, 96KB)

Making a track through the dense bush towards the crest of the gorge.

The team are cracking on with creating new passing lanes on the Saddle Road. (JPG, 96KB)

The team are tackling the slip from the 'top down'.

The team are tackling the slip from the 'top down' - working hard to form a track through DoC land above the gorge and removing trees to create a clear worksite at the top. (JPG, 141KB)

Making a track through the dense bush towards the crest of the gorge.

Making a track through the dense bush towards the crest of the gorge. (JPG, 144KB)

Caption.

Aerial view as at 3 October 2011. (JPG, 140KB)

Updates

Contact us

Anthony Frith
DDI 04 894 5251
E anthony.frith@nzta.govt.nz