Storm update for the West Coast, Top of the South on eve of Waitangi Weekend


Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency highway teams have been assessing a number of slips north of Haast township and between the two glacier towns, Franz Josef and Fox, on SH6, today.

With more rain forecast to fall tonight, the highway will remain closed overnight and through most of Friday, says Moira Whinham, Maintenance Contract Manager for Waka Kotahi on the West Coast.

The next review time for this South Westland highway is 4pm Friday.

Buller – Red warning going into Friday

A Red MetService warning remains in place with heavy rain forecast from around 5am to midnight Friday for Buller District. SH6 remains open, however, slips are possible and streams may rise rapidly with surface flooding, says MetService. Plan your journey and check road conditions before you travel.

SH6 closed between Hira north-east of Nelson and Rai Valley, in Marlborough – detour via the Wairau Valley, SH63

This section of SH6 linking Nelson and Blenheim closed earlier this afternoon due to water overtopping onto the highway and slips.  This part of the highway will be closed tonight and could remain closed through to Saturday afternoon.

The detour for people driving from Blenheim to Nelson is SH63 Wairau Valley to St Arnaud, SH63 St Arnaud to Kawatiri Junction, SH6 north to Nelson. 

Nelson to Blenheim drivers, reverse that order.

Journey Planner(external link)

Rocks Road, Nelson, part of SH6, likely to close either side of the high tide Friday

Rocks Road was closed around 11.20 am today (Thursday) as storm swells brought waves crashing over the highway through the high tide period around 12.15 pm. It opened a couple of hours later. This is likely to occur again on Friday when the high tide will be close to 1 pm. The detour route is Waimea Road.

Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough – Orange warnings

The MetService has Orange warnings in place for the Rai Valley, the Richmond and Bryant Ranges, Nelson Lakes and the Whangamoas currently. Rivers may rise rapidly and drivers could face surface flooding and slips over the next 24 to 48 hours. (See above for closure Hira to Rai Valley due to flooding.)

There is also an Orange heavy rain warning in place for Tasman west of Motueka into Golden Bay/Mohua. Slips are possible and streams may rise rapidly with surface flooding, says MetService.

Plan ahead this Waitangi Weekend across Te Wai Pounamu/ South Island

People are advised to plan ahead this Waitangi Weekend with large volumes of traffic and potentially disruptive weather systems across the West and Upper South Island.

“Buller and Westland remain under a Red MetService weather warning and parts of Tasman and Marlborough have Orange rain warnings,” says Tresca Forrester, Waka Kotahi Journey Manager. “These have the potential to cause disruptions through the long weekend.”

People should follow the latest advice on local Civil Defence Pages, MetService and the Waka Kotahi website for road conditions, she says. “Pack extra gear and allow extra time in case of road disruptions.”

If you are going to be driving on these roads, please check the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner traffic map first:

  • SH6 between Haast and Westport
  • SH60 over the Tākaka Hill
  • SH6 between Blenheim and Nelson
  • SH1 Kaikōura Coast (Sunday and Monday)

Typically, the heaviest South Island traffic will be around Christchurch and Timaru, Kaikōura, Blenheim, Nelson, Motueka, Queenstown and Wanaka over the Waitangi Weekend.

We encourage you to check our holiday planning tool before you head away for the weekend to know what to expect.

Holiday Journeys - Waitangi Day weekend 2022 travelling information(external link)

Tips for safe driving and riding this long weekend: 

  • Check your vehicle before you head off eg tyre pressure and tread, windscreen wipers, indicators and lights, Warrant of Fitness and Registration.
  • Drive to the conditions: expect delays and build in extra time.
  • Keep alert and share the driving if you can. Take regular breaks.
  • Keep a safe following distance from vehicles in front so you can stop safely.
  • Be patient: Overtaking is unlikely to make a significant difference to your journey time due to the amount of traffic expected over the weekend.

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with: