Highway engineers believe the historic Skippers Road could re-open as early as mid-October.
A spectacular schism opened up on the road earlier this week following heavy rain.
About 80 per cent of a five-metre section of the narrow road dropped into the Shotover River. The landslide is at Devil’s Elbow, about 18km from the Coronet Peak Road turnoff and 500 metres before Deep Creek.
Canyon collapse: A huge road slip at Skippers Canyon's notorious Devils Elbow near Queenstown
Picture: David Knowles
At a meeting this morning (Thursday), engineers discussed possible options that could resolve the issue within five weeks, weather dependent.
Queenstown Lakes District Council transport manager Denis Mander says: “We are looking at a proposal to cut into rock wall on the inside curve of the slip area to create a road bench and to rock bolt as necessary.
“We are proposing that works start immediately and that we adopt a seven day working week to bring forward the re-opening date.”
The slip affects several tourism operators – including Skippers Canyon Jet and Queenstown Rafting – and a handful of residents, who have all adopted contingency plans to continue living and operating in the Skippers area.
“It is a very unique road in a very unique area,” Mander says. “Council recognises there is strong public interest in restoring access, as a priority.”
It is proposed that Council undertake the work under the emergency works provision of the Resource Management Act, with material from the excavation to be disposed of into the Shotover River.
“We did explore alternatives such as lowering the road, bridging or completely realigning road but discounted these because of combination of engineering feasibility, cost and time to implement.
“Both the consultant and contractors advising Council agree the benching proposal is the right approach.”
Although the proposal required consent from the Otago Regional Council, Council hoped to receive the Regional Council’s support within the next two days.
The proposal was also being considered by the Historic Places Trust. The area of the proposed ‘cut’ would not affect any historic stacked stone walls.
“In the meantime we are doing everything we can to get works underway with our contractor positioning machinery (digger, drilling and grouting equipment) at the site today,” Mander says.
Council is continuing to work through the cost of the repair but does not yet have a final figure.
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