Arthur’s Pass route, SH73, closing tomorrow 10 am to 6 pm


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says that favourable weather forecast from Tuesday (5 December) on the Arthur’s Pass/ Otira gorge alpine route means that resurfacing will begin after 10 am with a full highway closure to 6 pm.

“The forecast at this stage is looking reasonably good for four days of full daytime closures this week from Tuesday,” says Mark Pinner, System Manager for the Transport Agency in the Central South Island.

The road, which is one of two key alpine passes between the West Coast and Canterbury, will be closed each weekday 10 am to 6 pm for essential re-surfacing for up to two weeks.

Contingency days are built into the fortnight’s planned closures to 15 December, says Mr Pinner. ”We will do our best to keep people updated if there is any change to the planned schedule due to wet or cold weather.”

This video shows the route being re-surfaced from tomorrow and Frazer Densem, Paving Manager for Fulton Hogan, explains the reasons for the daytime timing: 

SH73 Otira Gorge closure(external link)

People can go onto an email list to be kept updated on any postponements (, as well as checking the Transport Agency’s South Island social media pages for daily updates for changes to the schedule as well as the traffic and travel/ journeys pages: 

Highway conditions West Coast(external link)

  • The alternative route linking Canterbury and the West Coast is via the Lewis Pass/Reefton, SH7. It adds around an hour from Greymouth and an hour-and-a-half from Hokitika.

On closure days, West Coasters will need to be at Otira by 10 am if they are heading east on SH73 and back at Arthur’s Pass after 6 pm to get home, says Mr Pinner.

  • The route will be open this weekend, 9 and 10 December.
  • Arthur’s Pass and Otira townships will be accessible at all times from each side of the Main Divide. People are encouraged to continue to visit.
  • The rest of the West Coast remains open for business. Routes north and south along the Coast Road (SH6) are unaffected by this closure.
  • Emergency services will be escorted through the SH73 site as required.
  • SH73 will be reopened fully each day outside the 10am - 6pm closure.

“Our aim is to ensure that the highway remains safe and fit for purpose for many years to come,” says Mr Pinner. “We want to reduce the potential for more frequent short-term delays in the future due to failures in the road surface. It is now starting to crumble in places. This road is constantly under significant stresses from its grade (16%) and the alpine environment with seasonal weather extremes.”

The finishing point of the renewal work – the Rockfall Shelter, below the Reid Falls Chute:

*Distances/ times comparison Arthur’s Pass/Otira versus Lewis Pass, advice for travellers to get to the road block in time:

  • SH7 Lewis Pass, Greymouth to Christchurch, 322 km, four hours, 30  minutes in normal traffic.
  • SH73 Arthur’s Pass/ Otira Gorge route Greymouth to Christchurch, 245 km, three hours, 30 minutes in normal traffic.
  • For Canterbury people aiming to get to the road block at Arthur’s Pass before 10 am each weekday of closure, they need to allow 2.5 hours from Christchurch. (Leave Christchurch by 7.30 am or earlier, depending on weather.)
  • For people travelling from Greymouth to the road block point at Otira, they need to allow 1.5 hours from Greymouth to make the trip comfortably before 10 am. (Leave Greymouth by 8.30 am or earlier depending on weather).