The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has confirmed that a major landslip occurred last week on the SH3 highway in the Manawatu Gorge, near Palmerston on the North Island, due to torrential rain.
About 20,000m³ of soil fell onto the two lane highway from the steep-sided valley walls. NZTA was unable to say for how long the road will remain closed.
The road was already closed, following a previous landslip in the same place in August. Contractors were clearing debris from the original landslip, before last weekend’s rain further destabilised the embankment face, increasing the height and width of the slip face.
NZTA regional state highways manager David McGonigal said closures of this extent only happen “once in a decade”. “Our priority is twofold: getting the highway reopened as soon as it’s safe to do so, and keeping the alternative routes well maintained and safe in the meantime,” he added.