State Highway 6, Nelson to Blenheim, open in time for Christmas


After seven weeks of hard work and an over $15 million investment, State Highway 6 between Blenheim to Nelson is back in business for road users.

The route has been closed between Hira and Rai Valley for the last seven weeks, with road crews working long hours to repair damage caused by the August floods.

Mark Owen, Regional Manager Wellington/Top of the South, says the road will be reopened to two lanes by 10 pm on Sunday, 18 December. Although, bad weather may affect some of the work still to be completed.

“Even if rain is a factor, we will still re-open the road on Sunday by 10 pm. But drivers may see some minor temporary traffic management in place until we get the road surfacing and marking finished. Our contractors are making every effort to get this done before the highway reopens.”

Mr Owen says an immense amount of work has gone into restoring the critical state highway link.

“To complete the substantive elements of this work in seven weeks under challenging conditions is a major achievement. It is great to see the deadline met and the highway open on time before the holiday season. It was critical we got this route repaired in the shortest possible timeframe.”

Mr Owen says the project has also used the opportunity to improve the route’s resilience and make it more resistant to bad weather events.

“Around 30 new culverts have been built as part of the project. They replace the 20 originally in place on this stretch of highway. They’re bigger and better and will help control and reduce the damage caused by future bad weather events. A forestry company has also taken advantage of the closure to clear trees that could have posed a risk to the road. This shortens the time this work takes next year, meaning fewer interruptions and delays for road users.”

Mr Owen acknowledges the road’s closure has had a big impact on local communities and businesses.

“We know it has been hard, and it came after tough times caused by COVID-19 and floods. Losing access to this route for seven weeks has been difficult. I want to thank all those affected for their patience, cooperation, and understanding while the project’s been underway. A huge shout out is also owed to the accommodation providers and businesses who have been taking care of our road crews while they’ve been on the job. Your support has been very much appreciated.”

Advice for road users:

  • The highway will reopen by 10 pm on 18 December. Depending on work progress, it may open sooner.
    Keep an eye on our journey planner for the latest information - Nelson/Marlborough Traffic(external link)
  • Plan your travel. Please avoid queuing at the closure points if you can. Traffic queues at these points will only create congestion and delays.
  • Respect the road. Major repairs have been carried out over the last seven weeks and the highway won’t be the way regular users remember it. Watch your speed and take care on the new road surfaces at the repair sites.
  • We expect in the new year we will return with some shoulder closures and isolated short one way sections controlled by traffic lights or manual stop/go, to complete minor finishing works.
  • We had avoided doing repairs on the alternative route between Nelson and Blenheim to minimise disruption for traffic. With State Highway 6 reopening between Hira and the Rai Valley we will be carrying out repairs where needed on these parts of the highway network before Christmas. Road users can expect some delays with traffic management in place operating under stop/go single lane closures.
A digger and truck working on a large slip next to a road

SH6 overslip repairs, December 2022

State Highway 6 repairs – facts and figures:

  • 120 workers used on the project.
  • A significant amount of equipment and heavy machinery was required. This included:
    • Three drill rigs, four five tonne excavators, four 15 tonne excavators, five 20 tonne excavators, two 35 tonne excavators, two water carts, and three 35 tonne dump trucks, and over 20 trucks.
  • Over 30 new culverts were installed, as were new erosion protection measures such as reno-mattress outlets and rail iron debris screens.
  • 2,000 tonnes of asphalt and 25,000 square metres of chip seal were laid. Over 500 cubic metres of concrete was used, as were 30 tonnes of reinforcing steel, 1,200 metres of rock anchors, and around 1,000 metres of timber lagging.
  • 35 piles were installed below retaining walls at the underslip sites.
  • Around 10,000 tonnes of gravel were carted from flood-prone properties and, for above one slip site, over 10,000 tonnes of material had to be removed.