Heading into the rain – be prepared in the South


The MetService has issued a Red Warning for Westland and Buller – it means the West Coast and upper South Island could see rainfall similar to that in the weather events of February this year and July 2021.

Waka Kotahi System Manager Andrew James says contractors are ready to react as the rain and flooding picks up on Wednesday.

“As of six pm Tuesday evening, there had been no weather-related highway closures in the South Island. However, we expect this to change as the rain sets in”.

Metservice Rainfall forecasts:

  • The ranges of Buller and Westland could see 350-550mm of rain up until Thursday afternoon/evening
  • The Tasman Ranges could see heavy rainfall as well. This area is currently under an Orange Warning, which may be upgraded.

Mr James says road users should delay any non-essential travel until Thursday and check the Waka Kotahi traffic pages for closures before heading out if a trip is unavoidable. Extreme caution on the roads is essential.   

Journey Planner(external link)

“People need to take care around rivers, particularly at high tides, and areas where we have had slips and flooding in the past,” he says.

West Coast/ Buller

Flooding, slips, and fallen trees are likely around the Westport area, especially in places like the Buller Gorge, SH6, around Lyell and Hawks Crag, where the Buller River can overtop the highway. The rain warning extends into South Westland and may also affect roads south of Hokitika.


A number of rivers, including the Motueka and Riwaka, are likely to be affected by torrential rain. People should anticipate bridges may close around Golden Bay/Mohua.

Mr James says SH60 to Golden Bay/ Mohua is likely to be affected by the bad weather.

“Cook’s Corner in Riwaka will be closely watched. We have roving road patrols across the Tasman network overnight and tomorrow”.


350 – 500 mm of rain is forecast to fall in the Richmond Ranges from 7 am Wednesday with lesser amounts in the Sounds.

Mr James says SH6 around Rai Valley, Canvastown and Havelock will be closely monitored.

“The local road network in the Sounds is already saturated, so communities should anticipate roads will closed if necessary to keep people safe”, he says.

The forecast

Rainfall is forecast to peak on Wednesday, but the rain continues into Thursday and may return over the weekend.

Mr James says road crews will be working hard to keep drivers and communities safe over the next few days.

“We ask everyone not to underestimate floodwaters or ignore road closures. Please follow the advice you are get from roading contractors, Waka Kotahi and your local council operators.”

“Our teams will be working hard to reopen roads once rain abates, so please take care around them and other road users’ , Mr James says.

Know your local weather conditions

Road users in affected areas are also encouraged to keep up to date on the latest weather warnings for their region.

MetService Red Warnings for the central and upper South Island(external link)