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Desert Road closure extended for slip repair work

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Update: The planned two-day closure of SH1 Desert Road between Rangipo and Waiouru will be extended to a third day, as work is taking a little longer than we’d anticipated. This will see the road closed between 7am and 5pm on Friday 11 November.

While the rain forecast for Friday will slow contractors down, we’re confident the work will be completed and the road reopened for the weekend.

A further closure period is anticipated to take place late November/early December, towards the end of the project.

This information updates the media release below:


2 November 2022 media release

State Highway 1 will close between Rangipo and Waiouru to allow critical work activities to take place at two underslip repair sites near Tree Trunk Gorge on the Desert Road.

The closure will be in place between 7am and 5pm, for both Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 November. During this time road users will need to use State Highways 46, 47, 4 and 49 to detour around the western side of Mt Ruapehu via National Park.

While the disruption this closure causes is unfortunate, closing the road is the only suitable option due to the location contractors need to work in, says Cara Lauder, Waikato System Manager, Maintenance and Operations.

“Since the slips occurred in August, material has continued to fret away at the edge of the road. We are now at a point where we need to install soil anchors into the slip faces. This requires machinery that needs to be placed in the existing road corridor, which prevents vehicle access past the site.

“The closure is only expected to last two days, however an additional day or two may be needed should we encounter any unforeseen issues. Work to date has included drilling through lahar material, which is extremely hard work, and has caused slower than expected progress.”

A further closure will be required late November/early December for shotcreting (spraying of concrete) to stabilise the new slip face.

“This work involves a crane, which will be set up at road level, and will be placed across both lanes. We will communicate the exact date of these closures closer to the time, once we can state with confidence when they will occur”, says Ms Lauder.

While the road is closed, routine road maintenance activities, such as vegetation control and signage maintenance, along with road surface repairs, will also take place.

The work to repair these slips is complex, with the majority of activity being undertaken below the road to minimise impacts. We expected the road to be fully repaired, and back to two lanes, before Christmas.

A digger working on a large slip

A SPIDER excavator tidying up loose material, isolating water outflows and prepping pads for drilling works to commence upon.

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