State Highway 1 to reopen this evening

The Orari SH1/79 intersection earlier today, Photo: NZTA
The Orari SH1/79 intersection earlier today, Photo: NZTA
State Highway 1 between Dunedin and Christchurch will reopen at 6pm today after flooding forced the closure of a section for several days.

The NZ Transport Agency says SH1 at the Rangitata bridge will reopen at 6pm.

 - Check highway conditions here

NZTA system manager Pete Connors said there would be temporary speed limits in place across the Rangitata Bridge in some places.

"Please slow down and follow the posted speed limits.

"The Transport Agency thanks everyone who has been working and continues to work on these repairs and on the detour route via Arundel since the weekend for their long days and dedication," he said.

The NZTA earlier said floodwaters were coming under control, and while there was a small amount of surface water left at the SH1/SH79 Orari intersection, the highway was increasingly dry to the north.

A barrier upstream of the highway redirecting water away is expected to be completed by tomorrow, and Chorus is also finishing essential repairs to its network.

After peaking at 2200 cumecs during the Saturday flood, the river has now dropped to 330 cumecs, still five times its average flow, Environment Canterbury (Ecan) said.


Work under way on the slip at Mt Hercules, north of Franz Josef. Photo: NZTA
Work under way on the slip at Mt Hercules, north of Franz Josef. Photo: NZTA

Given the pounding taken by the river’s protection systems at the weekend, it remains vulnerable in any future flood events, Ecan said.

Road users can cross the Rangitata River via a bridge near Arundel on Route 72. However, owing to to speed restrictions and increased traffic volumes, delays are likely on this route.

On the other side of the island, the NZTA says State Highway 6 between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier reopened this morning, after a slip closed the highway in the recent heavy rains.

NZTA says the journey will be slow in places while crews continue to remove and remediate slips sites and road shoulder damage. 

North of Franz Josef, SH6 will remain closed "until further notice". The NZTA says it hopes to have the road reopened by Christmas, but says this is weather dependent.

The highway from Hokitika to Franz Josef has been closed since Saturday after heavy rain over the weekend caused several washouts and slips along the highway, leaving hundreds of tourists and locals stranded in the region.


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