Impatient motorists have been ignoring overnight road
closures at the Haast Pass, some forcing the gates open to
travel through the damaged highway.
Overnight closures have been in place on State Highway 6
between Haast village and Makarora since a slip was brought
down at the Diana Falls, near the Gates of Haast bridge, last
The slip has often seen rocks - some as big as houses - and
debris spill across the road overnight during heavy rain.
As recently as last Tuesday, at least 150 cubic metres of
rock and material closed the road for an entire day while
contractors worked to clear the debris.
Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell, of Wanaka police, said one
motorist, a 22-year-old Queenstown resident, had smashed
through the locked gates on Sunday night, causing serious
damage to their van in the process.
Police pursued the motorist from Albert Town, just outside
Wanaka, to Cromwell, before he was arrested and put into
Mr Grindell condemned the actions of the driver.
"This incident speaks for itself. These gates are there for a
reason - safety."
He said the driver had put himself at risk, as well as
"We all know the perils of the Haast Pass with rockfalls."
Two Canadian tourists were killed when the slip first came
down during a fierce storm last September.
- By Nicholas McBride of the Greymouth Star