Work begins to reconnect South Island communities as flood waters recede


Waka Kotahi contractors are beginning the hard work of re-connecting South Island communities cut off by this weekend’s massive weather event as flood waters begin to recede.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Journey Manager Tresca Forrester says crews have been out since first light assessing road damage, inspecting bridges and clearing debris from blocked and flooded highways.

Access to some cut-off communities such as Westport and through to Golden Bay has been re-established, with the SH67 Buller Bridge, SH60 from Collingwood to Riwaka and SH6 from Hira to Rai Valley all re-opened (Rai Valley to Renwick remains closed).

The following roads remain closed:

  • SH1 Picton to Spring Creek - Flooding
  • SH6 Renwick to Rai Valley – Flooding and slips
  • SH6 Motupiko to Kohatu - Flooding
  • SH6 Inangahua to Westport - High river levels
  • SH6 Murchsion to Inangahua - Flooding
  • SH63 Renwick to St Arnaud - Flooding
  • SH65 Shenandoah to SH6 - Flooding and slips
  • SH7 Hanmer Turnoff to Springs Junction (Lewis Pass) - Slip
  • SH7 Springs Junction to Reefton – Slip

Ms Forrester says all available resource is being applied to re-open closed roads as quickly as possible.

“Contractors are aiming to re-open SH1 by midday and we expect to re-open a route through to Nelson by the end of the day via SH6 and SH65. We are also assessing flood damage on SH7 north of Hanmer this morning which completes this critical link.”

Ms Forrester says until the full scale of the damage caused by the massive floods is known it’s too early to say with certainty when other closed roads will re-open.

She is also urging anyone driving in the region to take extra care and be aware that they are likely to encounter surface water and debris on some re-opened roads, with many operating with lane restrictions or under temporary lower speed limits.

“With the massive rainfall we’ve just experienced, many areas will remain highly susceptible to slips, or to further flooding if the rain returns. Please keep safe and take extra care out on the roads today.”  

The following South Island highways are being closely monitored by contractors.

  • SH60 Takaka Hill  - slip
  • SH6 Murchison to Nelson – Surface Flooding
  • SH6 west of Murchison – Slips and surface flooding
  • SH6 Hokitika to Fox Glacier – Surface Flooding
  • SH6 Fox Glacier to Haast  - Surface Flooding
  • SH77 Mount Hutt – Surface Flooding

View the latest information on state highway conditions, updated regularly throughout the day(external link).