Rain continuing SH6: Franz Josef to Fox Glacier remains closed, rest of highway to Haast closed today and overnight


Sustained heavy rain overnight in South Westland has seen further damage at Smithy’s Creek on SH6, between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier, says NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA).

  • SH6 is closed from Franz Josef south to Haast today and overnight, with the section south of Fox Glacier to Haast being reviewed tomorrow morning at 10 am.
  • The section between the two glacier towns is likely to remain closed through the weekend and will be reassessed Monday at midday.

  • Update 2 pm: SH6 Haast to Makarora in Otago will close at 7 pm tonight (Thursday) with a review at 10 am Friday, due to surface flooding and ongoing torrential rain with high creek levels.

“Creek flows have breached the southern approach at the Smithy’s Creek box culvert overnight Wednesday with the continuous heavy rain. Rain is forecast to continue all day today with periods of intense showers overnight again Thursday night,” says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager for NZTA on the West Coast.

“While the rain continues to fall, crews are limited to minimising further damage and a full assessment of the damage at Smithy’s Creek will occur tomorrow (Friday) morning.

  • The next update on the section of SH6 between Fox and Franz Josef will be midday Monday, 15 April.

Rain is forecast to ease over the weekend and crews are on standby to start repairs as soon as conditions are safe for them to do so, says Miss Whinham.

Fox Glacier to Haast, SH6, remaining closed today and overnight

The accumulated rainfall south of Fox Glacier has seen a number of slips and fallen trees occur this morning (Thursday). With heavy rain and high winds along SH6 from Fox Glacier to Haast forecast to continue, the highway will remain closed today and overnight, says NZTA.

Crews continue to patrol the area and respond to issues while it is safe to do so.

  • The highway was closed overnight last night as a precaution given intense, continuous rain. The next update will be 10 am Friday.

Otago section open

The section of SH6 south of Haast to Makarora opened at 10 am after an overnight closure as conditions have eased through the area. Otago and Southland NZTA crews are continuing to monitor rivers and surface flooding in their regions today. This section of highway will close at 7 pm tonight and be reviewed at 10 am Friday, given ongoing torrential rain, high river levels and flooding.

Access to South Westland

SH6 is the only road link from Hokitika to Haast and beyond to Otago.

  • People can get to Franz Josef from the HariHari/Hokitika/ northern side. There is surface flooding throughout the area, which is signposted.
  • Fox Glacier is effectively cut off on both sides, north and south.
  • Access to Haast is available from the south.

Given the school holidays start this weekend, people will need to plan their trips with these closures in mind.

  • NZTA advises travellers to review their journeys south of Haast and north of Franz Josef given the uncertainties on the weather and the possible impact on road conditions.

West Coast highway updates(external link)

Otago highway updates(external link)