West coast

Large rock blocks Haast Pass road

A rockfall between Haast and the top of the Haast Pass has closed State Highway 6 today. The highway will remain closed until further notice, the next update will be at 12pm Wednesday 14 August.

NZ Transport Agency

Aug. 12, 2019


Haast Valley

Updated 3: 14 August 2019, 11:32am

Haast Pass to reopen at midday today to single lane traffic: large rock successfully removed off State Highway 6

The Haast Pass, SH6, connecting Otago to Westland, will reopen at midday after a significant rockfall closed the road on Monday afternoon at Clarke Bluff.

The rocks blocking the highway have now been stockpiled to one side and traffic will resume at midday today with single lane traffic.

However, drivers should factor in delays up to half an hour today and tomorrow daylight hours, says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager for the NZ Transport Agency on the West Coast.

“Rock scaling by abseilers to make the rock face safe is continuing today and tomorrow so it is important there is no traffic or people below the site when that is underway,” she says.

The highway will be open overnight with traffic signals controlling movements past the rock face until the stockpile of rocks can be removed and the scaling safety work on the face is completed.

The Transport Agency is aiming to have two lanes open to traffic for the end of this week.


Update 2: 13 August 2019, 11:56am

Haast Pass closure due to large rockfall at Clarke Bluff, SH6 – highway closed all day Tuesday, next update midday Wednesday.

Ongoing rain combined with a complex rock face at South Westland’s Clarke Bluff, SH6, mean the highway closure put in place yesterday afternoon will remain in place all day today (Tuesday) and Wednesday morning.

The next update will be midday tomorrow at this site: https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/regions/12

“The Transport Agency’s geotechnical engineer on site has undertaken a preliminary assessment of yesterday’s rockfall and agreed it is not straightforward to remedy today,” says NZ Transport Agency Maintenance Contract Manager for the West Coast Moira Whinham.

“Scaling of loose material from the rock face will take longer to complete than originally thought. Rain on site today is also slowing progress, and we must ensure that abseilers working on the face of the slip are safe. A further update will be provided at 12pm tomorrow (Wednesday).”

The highway was closed to all traffic after 3 pm Monday afternoon after a rockfall, triggered by recent rain, blocked both lanes including a large boulder which could not be removed easily or safely with machinery.

Clarke Bluff has had rockfall in the past. It is located at a narrow point on SH6 between Haast township and the top of the Haast Pass with no room on the side of the road for traffic to get past safely.


Update 1: 12 August 2019.

Large rock blocks SH6, Haast Pass road, South Westland to Otago

A rockfall, triggered by heavy rain in recent days, between Haast in South Westland and the top of the Haast Pass has closed State Highway 6 just after 3 pm today. The route connects Westland to Makarora on the Otago side.

The highway will remain closed overnight and into Tuesday morning with an update at midday tomorrow. (https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/regions/12)

The rock, at Clark Bluff, the site of previous rockfalls, is too large to be moved with machinery today, says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager, NZ Transport Agency for the West Coast.

Drivers are being turned back at Makarora and Haast today with the closure signposted on the route at each end, she says. “We will be doing our best to clear the road as soon as we can in the morning.”

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