Nelson to Blenheim Highway links to remain closed


The severity of damage to State Highway 6 between Nelson and Blenheim and State Highway 63 through the Wairau Valley means these highways will not reopen before next week.

Mark Owen, Acting National Manager Maintenance and Operations, says the highways must remain closed for safety reasons, and because damage assessment work is still ongoing.

“Teams have been hard at work examining the damage on State Highways 6 and 63 today. The damage is significant, and the information they’ve collected needs to be reviewed and assessed as it is crucial to our plans for fixing and restoring these routes. Contractors are continuing to clear debris and restore access to allow better access to damaged areas. This includes river work in the Wairau Valley to protect State Highway 63 from erosion.”

Mr Owen realises road users and residents want these key transport links open as soon as possible. However, he says the reality is there will be no quick fix and, with assessments still underway, timeframes for reopening can’t yet be given.

“The scale of the damage to highways and local roads is enormous. They can’t be repaired to their previous condition overnight. Getting these roads restored is going to take a lot of time and an immense amount of effort and planning. As our road crews continue this mammoth task, we ask for your patience and understanding.”

Mr Owen says with more rain forecast later this week; the situation could still change quickly.

An update on the status of both these highways will be provided on Monday, 29 August 2022.

A road with a section washed away, and a large flooded area

(Images: Flood damage SH6, Whangamoa Hill and flooding SH63, Wairau Valley.)

The alternative route into Nelson from Blenheim, the West Coast and Canterbury is via the Lewis Pass, State Highway 7, and Murchison, State Highways 65 and 6. People travelling from the West Coast to Blenheim must go via the east coast on State Highway 1.

State Highway 6. Rocks Road, Nelson update:

Every effort is being made to reopen this stretch of road to allow one-way, northbound access to Haven Road. However, it cannot be opened until it is given safety clearance from geotechnical experts. Traffic management is in place to allow a partial reopening as soon as it is safe to do so.

State Highway 63. Renwick – Saint Arnaud update:

Contractors are continuing to work hard to repair this stretch of highway. However, the flooding has caused severe damage with the Branch River Bridge washed out. It will not reopen this week. However, the road closure point will be moved from Renwick to Wairau Valley township this evening. This allows better access to Blenheim for affected residents.

State Highway 6. Renwick – Hira update:

Culverts needed to be cleared to help clear surface water between Renwick to Havelock. This section of State Highway 6 is open to essential services and residents only.

Havelock to Rai Valley remains essential access only. While a pilot road has been pushed through the flood debris from the Rai Valley to Hira, the road is extensively damaged. It is only accessible by contractors, and emergency services under escort.

State Highway 60. Tākaka to Onekaka update:

We are working hard to reopen this road to heavy vehicles, but more time is required to stabilise the embankment to make the road safe. Daytime road closures remain in place. This week, the road will be open to light vehicles only, during the following hours 8 am - 9 am, 12 pm - 1 pm, 3 pm - 4 pm, 6 pm - 7 am. Please note, the road remains closed to heavy vehicles.

Advice to road users:

In Nelson, the closure of local roads and the limited use of State Highway 6 via Rocks Road means congestion will be an ongoing problem. Drivers must factor this into their travel plans, and show patience and consideration for other road users.

Across the wider region, roadworks will be ongoing for some time. Some of this work will result in road closures. When these are planned, we will let people know in advance. We also ask that speed limits be observed, and drivers are prepared for delays.

Most importantly, flood damage is present on most roads across the top of the South Island. It is vital people drive to the conditions and adjust their speed accordingly.