UPDATE: Closure postponed for State Highway 6 Upper Buller Gorge - Newton River Bridge repairs


Update 23 April:

The planned closure of State Highway 6 Upper Buller Gorge, to replace a span of the Newton River Bridge deck has been postponed due to a material supply issue. 

This means SH6 Upper Buller Gorge, between the Murchison Limeworks and the Lyell Campground, will remain open between Monday 29 April and Wednesday 1 May. 

Alternate closure dates are currently being considered and we will provide an update on these as soon as possible. 

NZTA/Waka Kotahi apologises for any confusion and inconvenience this postponement may have caused. We also want to reassure road users that the Newton River Bridge remains safe for all vehicles to use.

16 April:

Drivers travelling between Nelson/Tasman and Westport must organise their travel plans ahead of a planned maintenance closure for the Newton River Bridge. 

The repairs mean State Highway 6 Upper Buller Gorge will close for three days and nights at the end of this month (29 April to 1 May) so one span of the bridge's deck can be replaced. 

Carrying out the repairs under a full closure means contractors can complete this work safely and faster. 

During the closure, contractors will remove the old deck sections before installing steel nosing and guardrail supports onto the new deck being built. The old slab space will be filled, the road will be resurfaced, and the bridge's guardrails and handrails will be reinstalled.

An image of a bridge with a prominent sign stating 4.45m, emphasising the height restriction on crossing.

SH6 Newton River Bridge - deck sections being replaced are shown in the foreground.

The bridge was originally built in 1988, and the planned maintenance is essential to ensure its continued use. The new deck sections have a 100-year design life. 

Contractors will make every effort to complete the repairs as quickly as possible. However, work is weather-dependent and may be postponed at short notice.  

Contractors aim to complete the repairs in three days, but two extra days (2 and 3 May) are planned as contingency days if necessary. If the work is paused, the closure will remain in place until it is complete. 

People travelling between Nelson and the West Coast must plan for this closure. While it is timed to happen outside of the busy summer season and after the school holidays, the detour will add around two hours to journey times. Drivers must factor this into their travel plans. 

NZTA/Waka Kotahi wants to thank drivers for their patience and understanding while these repairs are underway. Repairing the Newton River Bridge ensures a vital local infrastructure link is maintained and protected. 

Detour route during three-day closure:

  • Full closure of SH6 Upper Buller Gorge between the Limeworks and the Lyell Campground.  
  • A detour will be in place in both directions between SH6 Upper Buller Gorge via SH65 Shenandoah to Springs Junction; SH7 from Springs Junction, over the Rahu Saddle, and via SH69 Reefton to SH6 Inangahua.  
  • This detour is expected to add two hours to travel time. 
  • Residents can access their property on SH6 on either side of the Limeworks or the Lyell Campground.

From Monday 29 April to Wednesday 1 May SH6 Upper Buller Gorge will be closed between the Limeworks and the Lyell Campground as we undertake work on the Newton River Bridge. This detour will add approximately two hours to your journey with an additional 1