Huge boulders hamper Haast slip clearing work

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PICTURE: NZ Transport Agency
A lone contractor (circled) is dwarfed by the massive slip which has smothered State highway 6 at Diana Falls, in the Haast Pass.

Viv Logie
Boulders the size of houses are hampering contractors working on opening the Haast Pass highway, which has been closed since Wednesday by a major new slip between the Gates of Haast bridge and Haast Pass summit.
State highway 6 will not reopen today, adding to nervousness among South Westland business owners.
NZ Transport Agency West Coast area manager Mark Pinner said the major problem was clearing a 50m-high slip at Diana Falls.
Further inspection by technical engineering teams late yesterday and again this morning, show that clearing the slip was more complex than initially thought.
“One of the major issues is safely bringing down three large boulders about the size of houses that are perched high up on the slip face. We need to get assurance that they are stable or if not they will be sluiced or blasted free. As debris is being removed from the highway between the Gates of the Haast and Haast summit we are also seeing the extent of damage to the road pavement in this area,” Mr Pinner said.
The situation would be reviewed again later today to try to give road users a better indication when the section of highway was likely to reopen.
“We understand the importance of getting this route open as quickly as possible and our contractors are doing their best to make this happen. All other routes to the West Coast region are open,” he said.
The latest information on this slip and other highway conditions can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz, or by phoning 0800 444 499. Roadside electronic signs will carry the latest updates on road availability, at Fox Glacier and Lake Hawea.