Massive slip closes West Coast highway

The slip is estimated to be 400m long. Photos: NZTA
The slip is estimated to be 400m long. Photos: NZTA
A massive slip almost half a kilometre long has closed the main highway heading to the glaciers on the South Island's West Coast.

The NZ Transport Agency said daylight had revealed the slip, near Whataroa on State Highway 6, to the north of tourist hotspots Franz Josef and Fox glaciers.

It ws estimated at 400 metres long, with debris several metres deep.

Given the depth of material with large trees, soil, rocks and streams cutting across the highway, it was unlikely to be reopened until early next week, and NZTA spokeswoman said.

The highway would remain closed between between Hari Hari and Whataroa until Monday, meaning the only way in to the glaciers will be from the south, through Haast Pass.

Electronic signs advise motorists of the closure at either end of the highway - just south of Hokitika at the top of the road, and at Makarora and Lake Hawea at the Otago end.

Road crews are working to clear the slip and more machinery is on the way.

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