No public traffic access through State Highway 6 repair zones at the top of the South Island


Residents and regular users of State Highway 6 are being reminded there will be no direct link for them to use between Hira and Rai Valley when emergency repairs begin next month.

The State Highway will be closed between Hira and Ronga Road near Rai Valley from 1 November to 18 December.

Mark Owen, Regional Manager Wellington/Top of South, says Waka Kotahi is aware of the concerns residents and road users have about the closure.

“We continue to work closely with the people within the closure, in the Kokorua Road area, to explore options for safe access from their properties out to Hira.”

Feedback from recent community meetings highlighted individual situations of those directly affected by this highway closure. Waka Kotahi is working with these people to explore access options while this critical highway restoration is carried out.

Mark Owen says public access through the work sites won’t be possible.

‘This is due to the nature of the work required and the fact the work sites will use the entire road width for construction, particularly in the early phases of the emergency repairs.”

And Mr Owen says there is no way of allowing traffic to move to and from the closure zone into the Rai Valley via forestry roads either.

“These forestry roads were badly damaged during the August weather event and can’t be used.”

Waka Kotahi acknowledges the planned closure will bring considerable disruption for residents and businesses within and on either side of the closure area, including people and businesses in nearby areas, such as Hira, Cable Bay, the Rai Valley, Havelock, and Okiwi Bay.

Mark Owen says the August weather event severely damaged State Highway 6 between Hira and the Rai Valley, leaving it in a very fragile state.

“If there were to be another significant flood, the route could be shut down entirely for months, not weeks. For the sake of the local community and regular users of the road, this is a risk we can’t afford to take. It is why we have chosen to do a seven-week closure to get the repairs done as quickly as possible”, Mr Owen says.

Waka Kotahi will provide a further update on the closure and access options for affected residents later this week.

Detour Maps

People can travel between Blenheim and Nelson by using State Highway 63 (SH63) through to Kawatiri junction, then State Highway 6 (SH6).

While there are other options to travel on local roads from St Arnaud, we recommend people stay on the state highways, as they are safer and suited to higher traffic volumes and all vehicle types.

Rai Valley to Nelson detour:

Havelock to Nelson detour:

Renwick to Rai Valley detour:

Questions and Answers

When is the road closure on State Highway 6? 

  • We are closing the road between Hira and Ronga Road near Rai Valley on State Highway 6 (SH6) from Tuesday, 1 November to Sunday, 18 December, to make emergency repairs. 
  • People can travel between Blenheim and Nelson by using State Highway 63 (SH63) through to Kawatiri junction, then SH6. 
  • We realise the closure is for a substantial amount of time, but the SH6 route is currently vulnerable, and another serious weather event could seriously damage it and see it closed for many months. We are prioritising getting these emergency repairs done as quickly as possible and making every effort to restore the route before the busy Christmas period.

Can State Highway 6 be open at night or at intervals to let people through?

  • We have looked at alternate ways to do this work while minimising disruption for people. Other options would have required at least a three-week full closure and a much longer overall project time of up to 30 weeks. This would see the project extend into the busy Christmas and New Year holiday period and beyond. Under this alternative approach, road users would also experience significant travel delays when driving through the work sites.
  • It will be impossible to open the road for intervals during the day or night due to its narrowness and the work that needs to be done. During the work, the crew will be six metres below the current road level and accessing the site from each side. While this is being done, there will be no road to drive on.

Will the work be carried out 24/7 and during the weekends within the 7-week closure period?

  • Our contractors are gearing up for the emergency works construction period. There will be around 100 to 150 workers on site each day over the five construction sites, plus additional workers carrying out other maintenance and resilience work being bought into the closure. 
  • It is expected work will happen predominately during daylight hours. To speed progress, some work will be done at night. This will be subject to resources, programming, and the health and safety of our crews. Contractors will be working on-site seven days a week.

By the numbers

  • 8000t imported rock boulders
  • 15,000t of excavation
  • 15,000t of imported granular rock fill
  • 800m of drilling and rock anchors
  • 100m of drilled and cased piles
  • 300m3 of concrete
  • 500m culverts
  • 18,000m2 of chip sealing
  • 2000m2 of pavement maintenance

What access will there be for residents within the closure zone?

  • We are working closely with the people within the closure, in the Kokorua Road area to provide secure and safe access from their properties out to Hira.
  • We have investigated alternative access options at the Rai Valley end of the closure zone, but the forestry roads were badly damaged during the August weather event and do not provide a suitable alternative route.