Work begins next month to proactively manage Diana Falls slip face


Work is expected to begin within the next month proactively managing the slip at Diana Falls, on State Highway 6, between Makarora and Haast,

The NZ Transport Agency Performance Manager Pete Connors says the slip face has started to stabilise at the edges and does not appear to be continuing to erode further up the mountain.

"Within the next month, we expect the slip face will be stable enough for us to begin to proactively manage the site, removing the remaining loose rock and debris from the slip.

"By March/April, it is expected the slip will have been cleared of all large boulders and should have settled sufficiently to enable long-term protection works to be installed, which could include debris fencing."

The Transport Agency met with more than 250 people on the West Coast last week to discuss what was happening at the site and how to give the community and tourism industry greater certainty about access through the Haast Pass.

Mr Connors says night-time closures, from 6pm to 8am, are expected to continue for the next six months, until the we can ensure the ongoing safety for travel through the area. During heavy rain, the road is expected to be closed.

"At all times though, the road to the Glacier Country and Haast township remains open, as are the businesses, activities and services on offer. The same applies for travellers heading from Wanaka through to Lake Hawea and Makarora.

"And when it does rain, with the slip stabilising and less material falling onto the highway, we should be able to keep to a minimum any road closures. Our road opening times, outside the night-time closures, should be much more reliable in coming weeks."

He says when work to proactively manage the site gets underway, the Transport Agency will work with the tourism industry to ensure any road closures are timed to minimise delays and ensure good access through Haast Pass.

Glacier Country Tourism Group Chairman Rob Jewell says it's never been a better time to visit the Glacier Country and Haast as spring heralds longer days and milder temperatures to enjoy what’s on offer.

"Should there be any road opening delays, it is a great opportunity to spend some extra time exploring Glacier Country which is one of New Zealand's leading natural destinations.

"An extra day on the West Coast will always be richly rewarding."

He says the Transport Agency recognises the importance of keeping the road open and is doing all it possibly can to ensure there is as little disruption as possible to the lives and livelihoods of all West Coast communities.

Tourism West Coast Chief Executive Jim Little says the West Coast is experiencing a very strong number of visitor arrivals, and with the Haast Road open most of the time during the day, everyone is having a great time on the glaciers and the Coast.  

"All businesses are open and looking forward to giving visitors the good old West Coast 100% experience!”