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Further road closures in South Island as severe weather intensifies

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists of additional road closures in the South Island and urging drivers to delay trips if possible until the severe weather has passed.

SH6 from Hokitika to Franz Joseph was closed at 4pm due to strong winds and is likely to remain closed overnight.

SH6 from Westport to Rapahoe (north of Greymouth) was closed earlier today due to flooding and strong winds. The road is expected to remain closed overnight, with a further assessment to be made tomorrow morning.

SH6 at the Gates of Haast is also reduced to a single lane, with traffic controls in place.

SH60 from Riwaka to Takaka, Tasman District, was also closed just after 4pm due to fallen trees across the highway, slips and flooding at the turnoff to Kaiteriteri.

SH1 north and south of Kaikoura remains closed due to heavy rain and the risk of slips and rockfalls. The highway will be reassessed in the morning.

Route 70, the inland road via Waiau remains open for road access to Kaikoura. While crews are aiming to keep it open as long as possible, drivers are urged to delay all but essential trips in the area until the severe weather has passed.

All drivers travelling from Picton to Christchurch are advised to take the Lewis Pass route via Waipara and St Arnaud.

SH6 Rocks Road in Nelson remains open, and is being monitored closely. Wind is increasing in the area and conditions will be assessed throughout the evening. The road will be closed if conditions deteriorate eg storm surges either side of high tide (around 2 am Wednesday).

Drivers are urged to delay travel if possible until the heavy rain and strong winds have passed. High winds are especially challenging for drivers of caravans, campervans, high sided vehicles and motorbikes.

NZ Transport Agency Senior Journey Manager Neil Walker says while most roads remain open, driving conditions will be difficult in affected areas, and more roads may be closed at short notice for safety reasons, with the possibility of slips, rockfalls, flooding and coastal inundation.

Drivers are urged to keep a close eye on the latest road conditions and MetService forecasts before travelling.

"We’re working closely with MetService, local authorities, and the Civil Defence network in preparation for any impacts on the transport network and we’re planning for the likelihood of road closures."

If delaying travel is not an option, it’s important that motorists to drive to the conditions during severe weather:

- Reduce driving speeds

- Increase following distances

- Be alert to the possibility of surface flooding, fallen trees and debris

"Vehicles need three times more stopping distance in wet, while high-sided vehicles and motorbikes are more susceptible to tipping over in high winds.

"The Transport Agency wants everyone to be safe on the roads during Gita, so it’s important to keep updated on the latest forecasts and travel information before deciding to travel."

All current road closures and warnings will be updated in real time during the storm event at http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/, and drivers can also call 0800 44 44 49 for 24/7 updates on road conditions, closures or delays.

The latest severe weather information is available at http://www.metservice.com/warnings/severe-weather-warnings. For emergency and disaster updates visit www.civildefence.govt.nz

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