The end of the school holidays’ first week brings good news for Haast Pass road users for this weekend and a warning for the wider South Island, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.
The good news for users of the West Coast/Otago Haast Pass highway (SH6) is the pause on escorted convoys over Muddy Creek from Friday night, for the weekend ahead.
“Crews have pulled out all the stops to get this piece of highway ready for safe use over the weekend with traffic signals keeping the Muddy Creek area single lane,” says Robert Choveaux, System Manager for Waka Kotahi in Otago and Southland.
“The road will be open 24/7 this weekend, barring any more slips or severe weather events.
“From Monday, the highway will close again with convoys resuming at 8 am potentially with an extra fourth convoy, which we will confirm on Monday.
“People still need to bear in mind that this route is subject to short term closures if more rain falls or slips occur so check before you head off.”
Much of the South Island has forecast low temperatures over the coming days which could mean snow may fall over alpine passes/Arthur’s Pass (SH73) with snow down to 500 metres and lower in Southland, according to MetService.
“While these snow amounts are forecast to be small, we advise people to drive with care,” says Waka Kotahi Journey Manager Tresca Forrester.
“Crews will be out monitoring roads, applying grit or anti-icing compound if necessary,” she says.
There is a strong wind watch out across the South Island’s main divide from 6am Friday – 6am Saturday. “These conditions are still catching people out on highways, especially in high-sided vehicles like campervans or if people are towing boats/caravans,” says Ms Forrester. “Please be vigilant in high altitude and open areas across the high country.”
People need to keep an eye out on the Kaikōura Coast around Ōhau Point, north of the town, from Friday afternoon to late Saturday with up to 3.5 metre waves forecast. Traffic control will be in place if waves hit these heights for everyone’s safety.
Given it is the school holidays and people will be catching ferries from Picton, people need to build in extra time, says Ms Forrester.
Helpful places for updates on weather and highway status: