Grabbing Gravel the Ōtaki Way

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“Here’s a big one, Dad,” six year old Taj Jeram from Raumati Beach came prepared to carry rocks back to the family’s car.

The annual Gravel Grab on the Ōtaki River bed was off to a great start with 50 vehicles through the check-in site within the first 10 minutes of the event.

As usual this year the grab was held on the riverbed just below Winstone’s, down river from the highway bridge, with two collection opportunities – hand picking for home DIY projects or light truck or trailer loaded by one of the diggers, manned by the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) Ōtaki depot guys.

There were family groups with kids of all ages, helping to fill a bucket or more, young couples and the older folk starting a new garden in their retirement home. They came from all around the region, not just Kapiti but further south and north from Levin and beyond.

By the end of the day about 2pm, 217 vehicles, including one house bus, had been over the stopbank to load up or fill buckets, car boots or trailers with gravel and rocks of every shape and size. Some people made several trips. Most were careful about how much their vehicle could safely and legally hold, but several managed to get stuck in the occasional soft spot on the tracks prepared by the Ōtaki river works gang,, then it was a call for help and the guys came down with the depot 4×4 truck to tow them out or once or twice up to the top of the stopbank.

A space to stop was hard to find for those wanting to get their stones and rocks for home garden projects, not helped when others got stuck and had to wait for a tow
A space to stop was hard to find for those wanting to get their stones and rocks for home garden projects, not helped when others got stuck and had to wait for a tow

One of those helping direct vehicles to the loading areas was Roy Winterburn, the Advanced Landscape contractor, currently contracted to work with GWRC, who volunteered his day to help with the Gravel Grab operation. Thanks Roy for your interest and help.

GW Ōtaki site’s Jeff Evans said all up about 50 cubic metres of gravel was collected from the site. This is a very small portion of the 50,000m3 — about 3,820 truckloads per year, GWRC’s has resource consent to extract from the river annually.

The Gravel Grab was held on the same day as the start of the Ōtaki kite Festival. Several families were in to get their pick of gravel, head home and unload before coming back to the beach to see the kites.

A great day for Ōtaki!