Experts investigating how to move massive rockfall on South Island's Haast Pass

Abseilers and geotech experts are examing how to remove a major rockfall that's closed the Haast Pass (State Highway 6), a key route between the West Coast and Otago.

Among the options are using machinery or explosives.

The rockfall happened on Monday and was triggered by heavy rain, a statement from the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) said. 

It's located between Haast in south Westland and the top of SH6.

Experts investigating how to move massive rockfall on South Island's Haast Pass
Photo credit: Supplied/NZTA

NZTA West Coast contract manager Moira Mhinham said the weight of the rock was unclear.

The road was closed about 3pm on Monday and remained closed on Tuesday morning.

"We need to safely reopen the highway," Mhinham said.

Meanwhile, Southland's Milford Rd (SH94) is expected to reopen on Tuesday, as snow clears and after earthquake inspections have taken place.

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit at a depth of 12km at 10:35pm on Monday night, roughly 15km north of Milford Sound in the South Island.

Earthquake inspections are taking place on Southland's Milford Rd on Tuesday.
Earthquake inspections are taking place on Southland's Milford Rd on Tuesday. Photo credit: GeoNet and Getty

It was described as "strong" by GeoNet, with more than 6800 people reporting having felt the quake. Those reports came from as far away as Auckland, but most reports came from the Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts.

Newshub.

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