New Zealand State Highway 6

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State Highway 6 NZ.svg

State Highway 6
Route information
Maintained by New Zealand Transport Agency
Length: 1,162 km (722 mi)
Tourist
routes:
Southern Scenic Route Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpg between Invercargill-Lorneville and Five Rivers-Queenstown (as of 2010)
Major junctions
North end: Blenheim
South end: Invercargill
Location
Primary
destinations:
Nelson, Murchison, Inangahua Junction, Runanga, Greymouth, Hokitika, Haast, Wanaka, Cromwell, Queenstown, Lumsden, Winton
Highway system
SH 5 SH 7

State Highway 6 is a major New Zealand State Highway. It extends from the northeastern corner of the South Island across the top of the island, then down the length of the island, initially along the West Coast and then across the Southern Alps through inland Otago and finally across the Southland Plains to the island's south coast. Distances are measured from north to south.

The highway is the longest single highway in the country, though it is shorter than the combined totals of the two highways that comprise State Highway 1, SHs 1N and 1S.

For most of its length SH6 is a two-lane single carriageway, except for 5.4 km of dual carriageway in Invercargill, and passing lanes in Invercargill and Nelson, with at-grade intersections and property accesses, both in rural and urban areas. Roundabouts are common in major towns, with traffic signals only found in Invercargill, Richmond, and Nelson, with signals controlling the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown and Fern Arch near Westport.

Route[edit]

Nelson/Marlborough[edit]

State Highway 6 crossing the Pelorus River in Marlborough

The highway leaves SH1 at Blenheim, initially heading northeastward across the rugged hills at the base of the Marlborough Sounds. it reaches the sounds briefly at Havelock, then heads inland up the valley of the Pelorus River. At Pelorus Bridge the highway again turns north, then tends southwest as it approaches the coast of Tasman Bay. The highway travels through the city of Nelson and nearby town of Richmond, continuing southwest across the plains of the Wairoa and Motueka Rivers.

From these plains, the road ascends rapidly to the 613-metre Hope Saddle. From here, the highway heads generally westward, along the valley of the Buller River and its tributaries. Beyond Murchison, this valley narrows to become the scenic Buller Gorge, and the highway twists its way high above the waters of the river.

West Coast[edit]

State Highway 6 near Kumara Junction.

The highway leaves the river as its valley broadens, turning south six kilometres from Westport, where the river reaches the sea. From here, the highway keeps close to the Tasman coast from Charleston for over 100 kilometres, turning inland only briefly near Runanga. This 100-kilometre stretch includes two of the coast's larger towns, Greymouth and Hokitika.

From Hokitika, the highway moves away from the coast, though still generally keeps within five kilometres of the sea. The highway continues south past Ross and Harihari, moving through state forests as it crosses several fast-moving rivers. Seventy kilometres south of Harihari, the highway skirts Lake Mapourika and reaches the tourist settlement of Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier itself, one of two within easy walking distance of the highway, lies nearby in the Southern Alps, which here come very close to the Tasman coast. The second glacier, Fox Glacier is located some 20 kilometres further south. The highway again briefly touches the coast at Bruce Bay before heading inland past Lake Paringa, before reemerging on the Tasman coast at Knights Point. The 30 km stretch of highway from here south to Haast is noted for its rugged scenery. After crossing the Haast River, the highway turns eastward and inland up the river's valley, climbing past the Gates of Haast and crossing the 563-metre Haast Pass, the southernmost of the three main road passes across the Southern Alps.

Otago[edit]

From here, the highway again turns south, following the Makarora River valley to the northern tip of Lake Wanaka. The highway skirts the eastern coast of the lake before crossing The Neck, a saddle in the mountains that lie between Lakes Wanaka and Hāwea. The highway continues along the western shore of Hāwea, then south along the Cardrona River to Albert Town, close to the tourist centre of Wanaka.

State Highway 6 at the Nevis Bluff.
State Highway 6 skirts the slopes of The Remarkables and shore of Lake Wakatipu south of Queenstown.

Ten kilometres from Wanaka, the highway is met by SH 8A, a spur of SH 8 skirting the shore of Lake Dunstan. SH 6 continues south along the western shore of the Lake, paralleling SH 8 which lies on the eastern shore. Close to Cromwell, a second spur, SH 8B, connects the two highways. From here, SH6 turns west, following the narrow and twisting Kawarau Gorge, emerging close to the wine-producing area of Gibbston.

At the western end of the Kawarau Gorge, midway between Cromwell and Queenstown, the highway passes the Nevis Bluff, a steep schist rock outcrop rising 100 m above the Kawarau River. The highway has a history of being disrupted and closed at this point due to instability and rock falls from the bluff. The first road around the bluff was constructed in 1866, opening access to the Wakatipu goldfields.[1] Significant slips occurred at the bluff on 1940-02-20,[2] and blocking SH6 in June 1975.[3] On 17 September 2000, a large-scale rock fall buried the highway at the bluff, and several motorists narrowly avoided being killed. The fall was caught on video and showed a volume of 10,000 m³ for the main fall; the resulting dust cloud was seen 5 km away.[4][5] Transit New Zealand conducted stabilisation drilling and blasting at the bluff twice in 2006 and again in 2007.[6]

From the Nevis Bluff, the highway continues west, reaching Frankton, close to the shore of Lake Wakatipu. The highway turns south to follow the southeastern shore of the lake, skirting the foot of The Remarkables and the Hector Mountains. This stretch of the highway is in part tortuously winding, and rises and falls over a stretch known as "The Devil's Staircase".

Southland[edit]

The highway leaves the lake's shore at Kingston, continuing south to Garston, where, the highway briefly follows the course of the infant Mataura River before heading across rolling hill country to the upper reaches of the Oreti River near Lowther. The highway continues to follow the Oreti south across the Southland Plains, past the towns of Lumsden and Winton before reaching its terminus at a junction with SH 1 in central Invercargill.

State Highway 6 spurs[edit]

SH6 has one spur, designated State Highway 6a NZ.svgState Highway 6A (also part of the Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpgSouthern Scenic Route). This 6.9 km highway links Frankton with the tourist centre of Queenstown.

Engineering features[edit]

The Kawarau River Bridge on State Highway 6
  • Hawk's Crag is a single-lane half tunnel blasted out of a solid rock bluff in the Buller Gorge. It was constructed in 1869.[7]
  • The highway featured a number of combined road-rail bridges, but several have now been replaced.
  • The Haast River bridge (km 750.0) is now the longest single-lane bridge in the country, with two passing bays.[8]

Major junctions[edit]

Territorial authority Location km Destinations Notes
Malborough District Blenheim 0 State Highway 1 NZ.svgClassic-nz-wine-trail.png SH 1/Classic New Zealand Wine Trail north
(Grove Road)
Picton, Wellington Ferry
SH 6 begins
State Highway 1 NZ.svgClassic-nz-wine-trail.png SH 1/Classic New Zealand Wine Trail south
(Sinclair Street)
Kaikoura, Christchurch
Renwick 10 State Highway 63 NZ.svg SH 63
St Arnaud, Westport
Alternative route to Westport, bypassing Nelson
State Highway 62 NZ.svg SH 62
(Rapaura Road)
Picton
Alternative route to Picton, bypassing Blenheim
Wairau River
Nelson City District contains no major junctions
Tasman District Richmond State Highway 60 NZ.svg SH 60
(Appleby Highway)
Motueka, Collingwood
Kawatiri 209 State Highway 63 NZ.svg SH 63
St Arnaud, Picton
Alternative route to Blenheim, bypassing Nelson
Longford 238 Longford Bridge
Buller River
Ariki 255 State Highway 65 NZ.svg SH 65
Springs Junction, Christchurch (via Lewis Pass)
O'Sullivan's Bridge
Buller River
Buller District Lyell 282 Iron Bridge
Buller River
Inangahua Junction 297 State Highway 69 NZ.svg SH 69
Reefton, Greymouth, Christchurch (via Lewis Pass)
Alternative route to Greymouth, bypassing Westport
Westport State Highway 67 NZ.svg SH 67
Westport, Karamea
Grey District Greymouth 430 State Highway 7 NZ.svg SH 7
(Omoto Road)
Reefton, Nelson, Christchurch (via Lewis Pass)
Alternative route to Nelson, bypassing Westport
Westland District Kumara Junction 448 State Highway 73 NZ.svg SH 73
(Otira Highway)
Arthur's Pass (mountain pass), Christchurch
No major intersections for 367 km
815 Haast Pass
564 m (1,850 ft)
Queenstown-Lakes District
Albert Town 891 Clutha River
Mt Iron 893 State Highway 84 NZ.svg SH 84
(Wanaka Luggate Highway)
Wanaka
Central Otago District Luggate 901 State Highway 8a NZ.svg SH 8A
(Shortcut Road)
Aoraki/Mount Cook, Christchurch
via Lindis Pass
Cromwell 942 State Highway 8b NZ.svg SH 8B
Cromwell, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Dunedin
Queenstown-Lakes District Frankton 996 State Highway 6a NZ.svg SH 6A/Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpg Southern Scenic Route
(Frankton Road)
Queenstown
SH 6/Southern Scenic Route concurrency begins
Southland District Athol 1061 Black Bridge
Mataura River
Five Rivers 1082 State Highway 97 NZ.svg SH 97/Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpg Southern Scenic Route
(Mossburn Five Rivers Road)
Te Anau, Milford Sound/Piopiotahi
Alternative route to Te Anau, bypassing Lumsden
SH 6/Southern Scenic Route concurrency ends
Lumsden 1093 State Highway 94 NZ.svg SH 94 west
(Mossburn Lumsden Highway)
Te Anau, Milford Sound/Piopiotahi
SH 6/SH 94 concurrency begins
1095 State Highway 94 NZ.svg SH 94 east
(Flora Road)
Gore
SH 6/SH 94 concurrency ends
Winton State Highway 96 NZ.svg SH 96 west
(Winton Wreys Bush Highway)
Nightcaps, Ohai
SH 6/SH 96 concurrency begins
State Highway 96 NZ.svg SH 96 east
(Winton Hedgehope Highway)
Mataura
SH 6/SH 96 concurrency ends
Invercargill City Lorneville State Highway 98 NZ.svg SH 98
(Lorne Dacre Road)
Dacre, Gore
Alternative route to Gore, bypassing Invercargill
State Highway 99 NZ.svg SH 99/Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpg Southern Scenic Route
(Wallacetown Lorneville Highway)
Riverton/Aparima, Tuatapere
SH 6/Southern Scenic Route concurrency begins
Invercargill State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 north/Southern scenic route NZ marker.jpg Southern Scenic Route east
(Tay Street)
Gore, Dunedin
SH 6 ends
State Highway 1 NZ.svg SH 1 south
(Clyde Street)
Bluff

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Otago Goldfields Heritage Trail - Queenstown". New Zealand South. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  2. ^ "Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961". Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  3. ^ Brown, Ian; Hittinger, Marc; Goodman, Richard (March 1980). "Finite element study of the Nevis Bluff (New Zealand) rock slope failure". Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 12 (3–4): p.231. doi:10.1007/bf01251027. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  4. ^ "Motorists lucky to flee slip near Queenstown". New Zealand Herald. 18 September 2000. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  5. ^ Hailliday, G.S.; McKelvey, R.J. (2004). "Video-analysis of an extremely rapid rockslope failure". Landslides: Evaluation and Stabilization. Taylor & Francis. p. 1355. ISBN 0-415-35665-2. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  6. ^ "SH 6 Nevis Bluff ' Traffic Delays". Transit New Zealand. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  7. ^ ca. 1900 photo of Hawk's Crag
  8. ^ What is the longest bridge in New Zealand?, Transit New Zealand FAQs. Accessed 2008-06-09.