Rock stabilisation Nevis Bluff, Queenstown Lakes District, late September to mid-December

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 16, 2019

The 1975 rockfall 44 years ago at Nevis Bluff and the current stabilisation work at the Midstream Columns.

Those using the road between Cromwell and Queenstown, State Highway 6, will see abseilers and drilling activities at the Nevis Bluff from Monday 23 September.

The NZ Transport Agency‘s Aspiring Highways team is about to start significant further rock stabilisation work at the Bluff.

Drivers travelling between Cromwell and Queenstown are reminded to take extra care around any road crews or traffic management sites. Short delays are possible.

“As part of the Transport Agency‘s ongoing safety and monitoring of the Nevis Bluff, this planned work was put off in earlier 2019 to stabilise a more unstable area of the Bluff. This was completed in early July,” says NZTA‘s Central Otago maintenance contract manager Mark Stewart.

The planned stabilisation of the rock mass known as ‘Midstream Columns‘ (see map) provides a number of benefits for the long-term management of the Bluff and road users‘ safety: 

  • Stabilising a large section of the rock face that was undermined with the road widening in the early 1970s, which will

  • Secure an access bench that provides good and easy access to the upper reaches of the Bluff, and

  • Provide a key location for the installation of future rock fall protection measures for the Nevis Bluff.

“The cost of the work, which will take around 12 weeks to complete, through to mid-December, is around $850,000,” says Stewart.

 “The work will involve stabilising the rock mass with around 130 rock bolts. The rock mass is a key part of the Bluff and it would be significantly disruptive to road users to blast using explosives, although some small blasting will occur in the first two to three weeks to clean up the rock face,” he says.

 “Most of the work can be completed with the road remaining open to two lanes with minimal disruption to road users.”

The Midstream Columns rock feature is next to the site of the 30,000 cubic metre Nevis Bluff 1975 rockfall, which closed the road for several weeks and caused significant disruption for months afterwards while clean up and stabilisation work was completed.


Drillers working on the Nevis stabilisation work in early 2019.

The Nevis Bluff is about half way between Cromwell and Queenstown – 25 minutes from Cromwell, 35 minutes from Queenstown.

 This work is subject to weather conditions.

 Image of the area taken in 2018.