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New Winter Snow Gates Porters Pass, SH73, Now Operational

Photo supplied.

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) has installed winter snow gates on either side of Porters Pass, one of the steepest and most elevated sections of SH73 linking the West Coast and Canterbury.

It is also a key part of SH73 for people getting to the Canterbury ski-fields and Castle Hill.

NZTA has operated winter snow gates successfully in several alpine locations in North and South Canterbury for many years, including Arthur’s Pass, Burkes Pass (SH8) and the Mt Cook/Aoraki highway (SH80).

“The gates are a new tool to keep the public and our road crews safe either side of Porters Pass and to reduce delays for all road users,” says an NZTA spokesperson.

“The gates reinforce the road closure points which ultimately prevent people having to abandon their vehicles in heavy snow, getting stuck or at worst, crashing. This means fewer rescues and subsequent need for vehicle recovery, and our crews can concentrate on clearing the snow and opening the road, with much less delay for road users.”

The road closure points will still have traffic managers and road crews actively working nearby and emergency services will be let through and escorted when required.

There will still be a chains required status with light snow when the road is not closed.

Winter patrolling of the alpine SH73 highway, 24/7, by road crews started this week, in line with NZTA’s service aims over winter which remain unchanged from previous years for the Arthurs Pass/Porters Pass route.

What happened last winter?

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Last winter SH73 Porters Pass was closed for 35 hours in total across numerous snow events and almost half this time was overnight. This is when the gates will be used in future, when there is a heavy dump of snow and the road crews need to work safely to clear it efficiently and quickly with no distractions.

  • Selwyn District Council will coordinate their closure of the Lake Lyndon Road to Lake Coleridge - this road connects to SH73.
  • For snow forecasts, check in with MetService: https://www.metservice.com/mountains-and-parks/national-parks/canterbury-high-country
  • For closed highways or highways with conditions for driving (eg chains need to be available to use, no towing vehicles) check the NZTA traffic maps: https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/highway-conditions
  • Chain-fitting advice from a southern skifield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrUSR3ZDx8c

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