Wind, torrential rain continues over Te Waipounamu, snow on horizon


People planning their school holiday departures need to check in with the MetService forecasts and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s traffic and highways update to be on the safe side.

Four Te Waipounamu/ South Island highways are currently closed in Southland, Otago and South Canterbury – the Milford Sound highway (SH94), Te Tipua south-west of Mataura at the Titipua Stream Bridge (SH96), Makarora to Haast (SH6) and the Aoraki/Mt Cook highway (SH80).

SH6 south of Luggate to Cromwell is now open with Stop/Go at Mount Pisa Road with flooding and damage to power poles. Road users should expect delays.

On top of these wind and rain-related closures, spring snow, forecast to be heavy in some places, is making its way up the South Island from Friday into the weekend, says MetService.

Snow on the way

“The active weather front moving north up Te Waipounamu/the South Island continues to cause havoc, with 14 Severe Weather Warnings and Watches currently in place in Te Waipounamu/the South Island,” says MetService.

Snow is forecast from midday Friday from the Lindis Pass north across the alpine passes to Hanmer and the eastern side of the Lewis Pass over the weekend.

  • Lindis Pass, Cromwell to Omarama, SH8: Snow could be relatively light on the edge of the snow band.
  • Mackenzie basin and Burkes Pass, Fairlie to Lake Tekapo, SH8: This area could catch some heavy snow up to 30 cm from early Friday to 10 pm.
  • Mid Canterbury – Ashburton/ Methven: These areas could also catch some snow on Friday.
  • SH73 Arthur’s Pass and Porters Pass, Central Canterbury: These passes could catch up to 25 cm of snow from midday Friday to the early evening.
  • East side of the Lewis Pass/ Hanmer area, SH7: This area could also catch snow on Friday.

Update on highway closures – south of Mataura, SH96

Rain and wind continues to have an impact upon state highways and local roads, with an additional closure this afternoon at Te Tipua south of Mataura, at the Titipua Stream Bridge (SH96).

Te Tipua closure at the bridge, SH96 updates here:

Journey Planner: SH 96 Te Tipua, at the Titipua Stream Bridge live updates (external link)

Makarora to Haast significant slip, SH6 closed at Muddy Creek, likely to continue through the weekend

“SH6 between Makarora in Otago and Haast on the West Coast will remain closed today and overnight,” says Waka Kotahi System Manager Otago and Southland Robert Choveaux. “While our next update is midday Friday, we need to warn people that the closure is likely to last through this weekend.  The risk is currently too high for crews to operate machinery safely around this slip site.” 

The active and mobile slip which has closed SH6 north of Makarora at Muddy Creek, in Otago before 10 am today.

South Canterbury, Aoraki/Mt Cook SH80 remains closed, rain coming

Strong winds are still very challenging in South Canterbury today, reports Fire and Emergency. SH80 into Mt Cook/ Aoraki is likely to remain closed for the remainder of the day and overnight again tonight depending on weather conditions and the fire at Pukaki Downs. Rain is forecast to arrive around 10 pm.

Heavy rain is also spreading north into Canterbury and the Canterbury high country over the next 12 hours, ahead of the forecast snow.

Journey Planner: SH80 Lake Pukaki, at the intersection with SH8 live updates (external link)

Southland: surface flooding

People should restrict their trips around Southland given the amount of surface water and flooding. Highways South is managing flooding at a number of places on the state highway network:

  • SH1 Bluff highway at Avon Road
  • SH1 Bluff highway at Ocean Beach
  • SH1 Brydone
  • SH1 Main St Gore at Broughton st intersection
  • SH1/SH96 intersection south of Mataura
  • SH6 Lumsden-Dipton highway north of Bell Road
  • SH6 Kingston-Garston highway south of Kingston
  • SH93 Kana St down to one lane due to flooding
  • SH94 Croydon
  • SH94 between Lumsden and Balfour
  • SH94 Te Anau-Mossburn highway at Centre Hill
  • SH95 Te Anau-Manapouri highway 4km from Te Anau
  • SH96 Te Tipua Stream Bridge (SH96 now closed at this point)
  • SH96 Dunsdale
  • SH96 Winton-Hedgehope highway near Browns

Surface flooding on SH96 Winton-Hedgehope highway near Browns today.

Gore District, Southland: A state of emergency was declared this afternoon in Gore where flooding has overwhelmed the stormwater systems.

Updates on Facebook: (external link)

West Coast and Canterbury blowing in the wind

Strong winds are battering SH73 between Kumara Junction and Otira on the West Coast. People driving high-sided vehicles like campervans, anyone towing a caravan, boat or trailer and motorcyclists need to be aware that gusts of wind can destabilise them fast, says Mr Choveaux.

Milford Sound/Piopiotahi access – closed all day Thursday, overnight into Friday

SH94 into Milford Sound/ Piopiotahi is closed today due to a high avalanche risk associated with the torrential rain.

The Milford Road Alliance team reports that heavy rain is continuing (Thursday) at rates of 25mm/h. “A reopening tomorrow will be subject to physical inspection and any clearance of slips/ trees when safe to do so.  Update on opening timing mid-morning Friday.”

Journey Planner: Otago highway conditions(external link)

Journey Planner: Country-wide traffic/ highway updates and advice(external link)

MetService forecasts(external link)