Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has organised convoys of traffic out of Te Anau from the Five Rivers Junction (intersection of state highways 6 and 97) starting at 4 pm this afternoon, through to Frankton near Queenstown, where the highways to the north are open.
As one convoy sets off from Frankton’s Lakeside Estate (where the highway closure is in place) at 4 pm, another convoy will set off north from Five Rivers. The route takes about an hour each way.
The convoys will operate continually on the hour at each end – 4 pm, 5 pm, 6 pm and 7 pm. At 8 pm the route will be closed again for the night.
“The highway between Frankton and Five Rivers/Lumsden is currently closed with slips and there are rockfall concerns which is why traffic has to be managed in convoy,” says Transport Agency Journey Manager Peter Brown.
“We are aiming to have this highway, SH6 Frankton to Lumsden, reopened Thursday afternoon and we are looking at doing another set of convoys Thursday morning – which we will confirm tomorrow morning.
“We continue to encourage drivers and people in Te Anau to wait if possible to make the journey out, but we understand some people are keen to get in or out of Te Anau hence this convoy system to take pressure off today.”
Drivers leaving Te Anau will follow a detour route around The Key area which is closed to Mossburn and through to Five Rivers via SH97. This link route has been closed but is reopening now. At Five Rivers they will join the convoy queue.
Although the highway south of Lumsden is open, the bridges over the Makarewa River, north of Invercargill, are closed to all traffic due to rising river levels.
All other information about the Milford Road and wider highways updates for Southland and Otago is covered in our earlier update:
Fiordland, Southland and Otago highways update(external link)
The Transport Agency is currently awaiting word from Civil Defence on the safety of opening SH 93 linking Clinton to Mataura and SH1 after earlier concerns about the potential for industrial gas in Mataura at the paper mill linked to the flooding Mataura River. At this stage, this highway seems unlikely to open in the next few hours. For updates on this situation check this web site:
https://civildefencesouthland.govt.nz/ (external link)
Check the NZTA web maps for closures and delay points.
A state of emergency was declared on Tuesday 4 February for the Southland Region, including Gore, due to extensive flooding. A state of emergency has also been declared for the Clutha District due to widespread flooding.
The road to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, SH94, was closed Monday between Cascade Creek and West Gate (the Chasm). A state of emergency for the Fiordland community board area was declared by Southland Civil Defence Monday afternoon.
Evacuations of people from Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is being managed by Southland Civil Defence Emergency Management.