State Highway 73 closed due to slip above Rock Shelter Otira Gorge – update 4pm


The slip on the Otira Gorge, State Highway 73, which closed the road between the West Coast and Canterbury today should be cleared by 6pm with traffic reduced to one lane.

'We are  aiming to have the road cleared and one lane open by 6 pm tonight, using traffic lights at Candy’s and Windy Points,' said Pete Connors, Regional Performance Manager NZ Transport Agency. 

 'Drivers should be aware that this will involve delays of up to ten minutes at each end.  It may take some time to restore the two lanes so be prepared for delays in coming days.

 'The Transport Agency’s contractors will be putting in place concrete barriers as edge protection along the 40 metres of damaged guardrail temporarily and using some of the slip material as a  short term edge protection.'

The slip of vegetation and rock occurred in dry conditions early today above and next to the Rock Shelter, built to safeguard vehicles on the Otira Gorge at a place renowned for rockfall. Around 200 cubic metres of rock fell onto the road taking out the guardrail.*

Geotechnical experts inspected the site this morning by helicopter, and were able to sluice the site to clear remaining loose rock.

State Highway 73 has been closed to all traffic, from Arthur’s Pass Village to Otira, since just after 8 am when it was discovered by Fulton Hogan’s crew checking the area. The Transport Agency thanks all road users for their patience today and in coming days.

 For the latest information go to link)  or phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS/ 0800 44 44 49. Also check out the Transport Agency’s Facebook page(external link)

 *Earlier estimate was that 100 metres of guardrail was damaged, downgraded to 40 metres.

Photo taken from the lower side of Otira Gorge under the Rock Shelter showing the deluge of earth and rock on the road uphill of the Rock Shelter, and missing guardrail.

Looking back at the Rock Shelter towards the West Coast.

Update 9.40am

The slip on the Otira Gorge is above the Rock Shelter (see file photo below), with approximately 200 cubic metres of rock on the road. Contractors report that rocks are still falling and there is about 100 metres of road guardrail missing. A helicopter inspection is being organised by the Transport Agency with geotechnical experts assessing the situation this morning.

The Transport Agency will further update the situation at 3 pm Wednesday.

Earlier statement

State Highway 73 has been closed to all traffic, from Arthur’s Pass Village to Otira, after a slip on the West Coast side of the pass at the Rock Shelter.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Journey Manager Lee Wright says there is no detour but the other option is for motorists to take the Lewis Pass route, SH7, between Canterbury and the West Coast.