Rangitata River Flooding (UPDATES)

2019-12-07T10:00:00

As of 11 December - 3pm

​NZ Transport Agency are reporting that State Highway 1 at the Rangitata Bridge will OPEN at 6pm tonight.

There will be temporary speed limits in place across the Rangitata Bridge in some places.

Drivers are urged to slow down and follow the posted speed limits.

The bridge was closed by the Transport Agency late Saturday morning when floodwaters from the Rangitata River spilled across the highway and bridge approaches.

The alternate road over the Upper Rangitata Bridge at Arundel was also damaged and flooded but was reopened midday Monday for the thousands of travellers stranded in South and Mid Canterbury.

NZTA say people can expect to see work continuing to strengthen the bunds around the river and stopbanks right through to Christmas. 

As of 11 December - 11.30am

The NZ Transport Agency has advised that State Highway 1 at the Rangitata Bridge will OPEN late this afternoon. The exact time will be confirmed at 3pm today.

Floodwaters are now coming under control with joint action from Environment Canterbury, KiwiRail and Transport Agency river engineering and roading crews.

There is a small amount of surface water left at the SH1/ SH79 Orari intersection, but the highway is increasingly dry to the north.​

​The alternate detour route for most of today
Route 72 via Arundel is the detour until SH1 reopens:

  • ​Speed restrictions will be in place on Route 72 / Arundel. Travellers should add at least an extra hour to their travel times and expect delays.
  • There will be localised detours in place from Orari where the bridge is a single lane bridge.
  • People should check this weblink for updates on SH1 at the Rangitate River: ​​​https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/roadclosures/284084
  • Timaru District Council's Civil Defence updates for Route 72 / Arundel route here: https://www.facebook.com/TimaruDC/

As of 10 December - 10.00am

  • ​Inland Route 72 / Arundel bri​​dge over the Upper Rangitata River remains OPEN to all traffic, however expect delays. 
  • State Highway 1 at Rangitata remains closed until further notice. 
  • The recommended route through the Ashburton District is via Hinds Arundel Road. While other routes are possible, they are not recommended due to existing road works further down. See below map for details .
Please visit the following resources for more up-to-date information:

AS of 9 Dec - 11.30 AM

The Inland Route 72 / Arundel bri​​dge over the Upper Rangitata River will be RE-OPENED to all traffic from 12 noon today, Monday 9 December, however State Highway 1 at the Rangitata will remain closed until further notice.

The recommended route through the Ashubrton District is via Hinds Arundel Road / Hinds Lismore Road. See map for details:

DetourMap2-01.png

As the Inland Route 72 will be the only north to south link over coming days, traffic flows along this road are expected to be very busy, and people who have non-urgent travel planned are urged to delay it, if possible.

More updates will be provided when available. Follow the Council's Facebook page for updates.​​

AS OF 9 Dec - 10.00 AM

The Inland Route 72 / Arundel bri​​dge over the Upper Rangitata River will be RE-OPENED to all traffic from 12 noon today, Monday 9 December, however State Highway 1 at the Rangitata will remain closed until further notice.

The Inland Route 72 will be the only access connecting the Ashburton District and Christchurch with areas south of the Rangitata River.

Speed restrictions will be in place, and combined with a backlog of traffic, travel times between Christchurch and Timaru are expected to be significantly longer. Drivers are advised to add at least an extra hour onto their travel times and to expect delays.

Limited services available along Inland Route 72 means travellers are advised to ensure they have enough food and water for their trip.

Localised detours will be in place from Orari, and motorists are urged to drive with care.

The bridge is set for reopening after roading contractors worked through the night to restore the damaged road.

As the Inland Route 72 will be the only north to south link over coming days, traffic flows along this road are expected to be very busy, and people who have non-urgent travel planned are urged to delay it, if possible.

More updates will be provided when available. Follow the Council's Facebook page for updates.​

AS OF 9 Dec - 9.00 AM

  • ​Both State Highway 1 and Route 72 / Arundel will remain closed until further notice.

  • No additional updates available at this time. The information update will be provided at 10.00 AM .

AS OF 9 Dec - 8.30 AM

  • ​Both State Highway 1 and Route 72 / Arundel will remain closed until further notice.

  • A Civil Defence Information Centre has been set up at EA Networks Centre (20 River Terrace, Ashburton - 03 307 7895) and is now open for those needing information and assistance.

  • An information update will be provided at 9.00 AM after overnight work is assessed. Potential re-opening will depend on river levels and the extent of the damage.

To receive road closure updates on your mobile phone, text the word ‘RIVER’ to 4196.

AS OF 8 Dec - 7.00 PM

Severe flooding in the Rangitata River has caused major damage to roads and bridges, making travel across the river impossible until further notice.

Here’s what you need to know:
  • THERE IS NO ROAD ACCESS OR ALTERNATE ROUTES TO CROSS THE RANGITATA RIVER AT THIS TIME.

  • Both State Highway 1 and Route 72 / Arundel will remain closed today (8 December) and overnight.

  • Crews will check the conditions and extent of damage as early as possible on Monday morning (9 December), but expect continued closures.

  • An information update will be provided on Monday morning after assessment is complete. Potential re-opening will depend on river levels and the extent of the damage.

  • A Civil Defence Information Centre has been set up at the EA Networks Centre (20 River Terrace, Ashburton - 03 307 7895) for those needing information and assistance.

  • The Civil Defence Information Centre will be open until 9.00 PM tonight and will re-open at 8.30 AM on Monday. Assistance will be limited overnight; contact 03 307 7700 for overnight assistance. 
To receive road closure updates on your mobile phone, text the word ‘RIVER’ to 4196.

AS OF 8 Dec - 4.50 PM

Ashburton District Civil Defence is urging motorists to avoid travelling to the Rangitata River bridges on State Highway One and Route 72/Arundel as they will remain closed for the rest of today and overnight, and there are no detours.

Crews will attempt to assess the condition and extent of flood damage to the bridges and roads as early as possible tomorrow morning (Monday 9 December), but prolonged closures are to be expected.

Residents are asked to try and not travel near these closures until further advised.

A Civil Defence Information Centre has been set up at the EA Networks Centre (20 River Terrace, Ashburton) and anyone who needs information or assistance is advised to go there. The Information Centre phone number is 03 307 7895.

People who are stranded in the Ashburton District are advised to make accommodation arrangements. For those in a campervan, places are available at the Rakaia Holiday Park, Mayfield Domain and Mt Somers Domain. Accommodation is also available for people at the Tinwald Holiday Park, Methven Hotels and Brinkley Village in Methven.

Towns around the Ashburton and Timaru districts are becoming full with people who are unable to get through the closures, so people outside of these districts are urged to avoid any unnecessary travel into these areas.

Anyone in Christchurch who had intended on driving south is urged to find accommodation in Christchurch. They can contact the Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Information Centre on 03 379 9629 for assistance.

The Rangitata bridges were closed yesterday after extreme flows were recorded in the river that flooded the bridges and surrounding properties. This has also resulted in damage to the roads approaching the bridges.

An information update will be provided on Monday morning (9 December). An estimated time for when the bridges might be opened may not be available until later. This information is dependent on river flows and what the extent of the damage might be.

To receive important text message updates on the Rangitata River bridge closures, text your postcode (must be an Ashburton District postcode) to '4196'.

Information will be made available on the Council's Facebook page and website.​

AS OF 8 DEC - 1.40PM

The Ashburton District Council Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been reactivated to monitor the situation and provide logistical support.

The Rangitata River bridges on SH1 and Route 72 / Arundel remain CLOSED and are unlikely to be re-opened in the near future. No detour options are available.

A Civil Defence Information Centre is being opened at the EA Networks Centre (20 River Terrace, Ashburton). This will be open from 2pm today. The Civil Defence Information phone number is 03 307 7895.

If you need information or assistance, please go to the EA Networks Centre.

ACCOMMODATION:

If you are displaced and are in a campervan, the following facilities are available:

  • Rakaia Holiday Park (03 302 7257)
  • Mayfield Domain 
  • Mt Somers Domain

Accommodation is available in the Ashburton District at the following locations:

  • Tinwald Holiday Park (62 Maronan Road, Tinwald - 03 308 6805)
  • Methven Hotels
  • Brinkley Village (43 Barkers Road, Methven - 03 302 8885) 

If you need accommodation in Christchurch, please contact the Christchurch i—SITE Visitor Information Centre on 03 379 9629.​

Please watch this space and our Facebook page for ongoing updates.

AS OF 8 Dec - 10.30 AM

SH1 Bridge at Rangitata will remain CLOSED until further notice. NZTA continue inspection work and access is still limited so it’s unlikely it will open in the near future.

Route 72 will also remain CLOSED until further notice. There’s significant road damage to the bridge approach on the South side, and repairs are expected to take at least 48 hours. View drone video footage of damage...​

No detour options available traveling south at this time. Avoid the area or delay your journey if possible.​

Hakatere / Potts Bridge is now CLOSED due to damage.

More updates here as we have them.​​

AS OF 8 Dec - 8.30 AM:

SH1 Bridge at Rangitata will remain Closed this morning - NZTA are inspecting but access is still limited so it’s unlikely it will open in the near future.

Route 72 will remain closed until further notice, there’s significant water and damage to the approaches so crews are unable to inspect the bridge at this point.

No detour available. Avoid the area or delay your journey if possible.​

More updates here as we have them.​

AS OF 4.30 PM:

The Ashburton District Council has closed its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) as no additional emergency logistical support is required at this time. Both the Rangitata river bridges at State Highway 1 AND Route 72 / Arundel are still expected to remain closed until 7.00 AM, after additional investigations are completed. Road signage have been installed well in advance of the bridge closures, advising travelers to turn back as no detour options are available. Travelers should preceed with extreme caution as significant surface water is present on all roads in this affected area. Additional updates will be posted as required. 

​AS OF 2.00 PM:

Rangitata river bridges at State Highway 1 AND Route 72 / Arundel are expected to remain closed until 7.00 AM tomorrow morning (Sunday, 8 December) after additional inspections are completed. Travelers should avoid this area as there are no detour options in place.

Below are lodging options for any displaced campers and/or hut residents:

AccomodationAddressPhone
Academy Lodge Motel
782 East Street, Ashburton
03 308 5503
Ashburton Holiday Park
68 Maronan Road Tinwald, Ashburton
03 308 6805
Ashburton Motor Lodge
507 West Street, Ashburton
03-307 0399
Ashburton's Regenc​y Motel
820 East Street, Ashburton
03 308 8266
Asure Adcroft Motel
13 Archibald Street, Ashburton
03 308 3587
Bella Vista
469 West Street, Ashburton
0800 235 528
Commodore Motor Lodge
814 East Street, Ashburton
03 308 8050
Coronation Park
780 East Street, Ashburton
03-308 6603
Hotel Ashburton
11/35 Racecourse Road
03-307 8887
Tinwald Motel
Main South Road Tinwald, Ashburton
0800 846 9253

AS OF 1.00 PM:

Ashburton District Council Emergency Management Officers have activated the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to offer support to displaced campers and hut residents, as well as to monitor the flooding situation into the afternoon/evening as required. No official emergency has been declared at this time.​

AS OF 11.10 AM:

State Highway 1 at Rangitata Bridge is now closed, due to rising, fast-flowing river flooding.

AS OF 10.30 AM

PEOPLE IN RANGITATA TOWNSHIP AND HUT HOLDERS NEED TO BE READY TO EVACUATE AT SHORT NOTICE.
CAMPERS ALONG THE RIVER SHOULD EVACUATE NOW.

Route 72 / Upper Rangitata Bridge at Arundel is now closed.​

The Rangitata River is currently flowing at around 2265 cumecs at the gorge recorder and is rising rapidly. Extreme flows, likely 3000 cumecs or more, are anticipated later on Saturday. Flow may reach the highest peak for the last 20 years.

Some floodwater is currently flowing down the South Branch, and there are several other vulnerable areas along the river that are at risk of river breakouts. The extreme flows expected today will increase outflows into those areas already flooding as well as increase the chance of issues developing on other parts of the river.

This extended period of very high flows increases significantly the risk of further bank erosion and breakout flows.

River flow patterns can change quickly as a result of these high, changing flows and landowners with stock in low-lying areas should shift stock to higher ground.

Widespread flooding is likely. Please use extreme caution and ensure your own safety as the situation could change throughout the day.

There is indication of further heavy rainfall in alpine catchments later on Saturday and into Sunday.

AS OF 10.00 AM

ECAN Timaru Flood Controller has requested Ashburton District Council to notify residents at North Rangitata Huts to be prepared to evacuate, in case of river flooding expected later today.

ECAN reports that the river is currently flowing at around 2140 cumecs at the gorge recorder, and is rising rapidly. Extreme flows, likely to be 3,000 cumecs or more, are anticipated later on Saturday. The peak flow is expected to reach the river mouth around 11.00 pm this evening. ECAN has expressed concerns that an eroded section of the bank, approximately 200 metres West of the huts, my be susceptible to breaching. Therefore, it is advised that residents should be prepared to evacuate if this happens. 

Ashburton District Council Emergency Management Officers have notified hut residents, and have been dispatched to monitor the situation more closely.

Additionally, an Emergency Mobile Alert (EMA) is expected at 10.00 am, targeting all mobile phones within cell tower coverage on the Northern side of the river. ​

Flood Warning from ECAN:

This message is recorded at 9:00 am Saturday 7th December 2019.

Forecasts have changed overnight and extreme rain has fallen in the upper catchment of the Rangitata River with around 300 mm recorded so far Friday and Saturday morning. The forecast is for further rain until 1 pm Saturday followed by a brief lull and the potential for more rain overnight Saturday. 

The River is currently flowing at around 2140 cumecs at the gorge recorder and is rising rapidly. Extreme flows, likely 3000 cumecs or more, are anticipated later on Saturday. Flow may reach the highest peak for the last 20 years.  

Some floodwater is currently flowing down the South Branch, and there are several other vulnerable areas along the river that are at risk of river breakouts. The extreme flows expected today will increase outflows into those areas already flooding as well as increase the chance of issues developing on other parts of the river.

This extended period of very high flows increases significantly the risk of further bank erosion and breakout flows.  
River flow patterns can change quickly as a result of these high, changing flows and landowners with stock in low-lying areas should shift stock to higher ground.

Widespread flooding is likely. Please use extreme caution and ensure your own safety as the situation could change throughout the day.

Environment Canterbury staff are monitoring the river and we will update with further information as the situation changes.

There is indication of further heavy rainfall in alpine catchments later on Saturday and into Sunday. ​
Check back for updates.​
Page reviewed: 16 Dec 2019 9:59am