Closure coming for State Highway 6 Upper Buller Gorge. Newton River Bridge repairs planned


Drivers traveling between Nelson/Tasman and Westport must organise their travel plans ahead of a planned maintenance closure for the Newton River Bridge.

The repairs mean State Highway 6 Upper Buller Gorge will close for three days and nights next month (29 April to 1 May) so one span of the bridge’s deck can be replaced.

During the closure, contractors will remove the old deck sections before installing steel nosing and guardrail supports on a new deck currently being built. The old slab space will be filled, the road will be resurfaced and the bridge's guardrails and handrails will be reinstalled.

An image of a bridge with a prominent sign stating 4.45m, emphasising the height restriction on crossing.

SH6 Newton River Bridge - deck sections being replaced are shown in the foreground.

Rob Service, System Manager Top of the South, says the one-lane bridge, originally constructed in 1928, is a vital link connecting Nelson/Tasman with the West Coast.

"The bridge span being replaced as part of our upcoming work was built in 1988. It's stood the test of time for 36 years but now needs some TLC." 

"Replacing the bridge deck is the most effective, long-term solution to fix sections of the deck that currently rock and to repair damaged supports and connections. The new deck section has a 100-year design life," Mr Service says.

Mr Service says the three-day closure between the Limeworks and the Lyell Campground means contractors can complete this work safely and, most importantly, faster.

"You simply can't do these repairs on a one-way bridge without closing it. But a full closure does mean the job is quicker to complete."

We appreciate the disruption a full closure will cause, particularly given the detour will add two hours to travel times for people travelling between Westport and Nelson. We are doing all we can to mitigate this, so we have planned this work after the busy summer season and after the school holidays, but before the cold, wet winter months," Mr Service says.

Mr Service urges road users to be aware of the work and adjust their travel plans accordingly.

Contractors will also undertake general maintenance work during the closure, including sign replacement and trimming overhanging vegetation.

This work is weather-dependent and may be postponed at short notice. While the aim is to complete the work in three days, two additional days (2 and 3 May) are planned as contingency days if required. If the work needs to be paused, the closure will remain in place until the work is complete.

Detour route during three-day closure:

  • Full closure of SH6 Upper Buller Gorge between the Limeworks and the Lyell Campground.  
  • A detour will be in place in both directions between SH6 Upper Buller Gorge via SH65 Shenandoah to Springs Junction; SH7 from Springs Junction, over the Rahu Saddle, and via SH69 Reefton to SH6 Inangahua.  
  •  This detour is expected to add two hours to travel time. 
  • Residents can access their property on SH6 on either side of the Limeworks or the Lyell Campground.

From Monday 29 April to Wednesday 1 May SH6 Upper Buller Gorge will be closed between the Limeworks and the Lyell Campground as we undertake work on the Newton River Bridge. This detour will add approximately two hours to your journey with an additional 1