Haast Pass highway moves to stop/go traffic management from next week – 9 October


Crews working on the Haast Pass around Makarora have made good progress removing material around the Muddy Creek slip, leading to an end for the weekday traffic convoy system from next week (9 October 2023).

“SH6 through Makarora and past the Blue Pools will reopen at 4.30pm on Friday 6 October, using traffic lights to manage one-way passage that night and over the weekend,” says Nicole Felts, Journey Manager for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

“From Monday at 8 am, we will manage that short section of highway using Stop/Go traffic management Monday to Friday daytime hours, so drivers don’t need to meet scheduled convoy times from Monday morning.

“Overnight, when traffic volumes are much smaller, after 4.30 pm each day, the traffic signals will be switched on again to manage the one-way passage over the slip area.”

Miss Felts notes that there are still essential works ongoing at the site, including:

  • Shoulder scouring repairs - where the creek meets the road.
  • Bridge repairs including guardrail replacement.
  • More slip material to be moved away.
  • Road surfacing repairs all around the slip area. 

Muddy Creek/SH6 Makarora is more vulnerable to future closures

“We need people to understand that this situation may recur when it rains again in this catchment,” says Miss Felts.

“Thousands of cubic metres of material have been deposited all around the creek bed. On either side of the highway surrounding the bridge, this material is between a metre and three metres higher than the road itself. (See photos below)

“That is why we need to deepen the creek channel in coming days to help carry water away swiftly, rather than block up and overtop at the bridge and close the highway in the next rain.

“Waka Kotahi is investigating ways to get as early warning as possible that the creek is rising and/or land is moving. This could include a temporary weather station at Cameron’s Flat as well as a river level monitor on or near Muddy Creek bridge,” she says.

“We also need to install appropriate warning signage and/or temporary speed restrictions through the area and there will be more frequent on-site inspections of this area.”

Work will be underway at Muddy Creek area for several weeks to come, she says, so people need to factor in a slightly longer journey through Makarora and past the Blue Pools area.

Note: This week (2-6 October) traffic convoys at 10am, midday and 2pm continue Monday to Friday with the traffic lights managing single lane flows after 4.30pm overnight to 8am each night.

The escarpment/steep slope above the bridge/SH6 which is supplying slip material to the creek.

The red-dotted line shows the fan area which is filled with slip material, still to make its way to bridge/road level. The Makarora River (blue water) is at the top of the photo.

Muddy Creek is behind you as you look at this photo. The road level is on the left-hand side. Where there was once thick native vegetation under the tree canopy, it’s now buried in up to three metres of slip material, much higher than the road.

Slip material packing into the edge of SH6.