Great Gravel Grab

F_AP15_Gravel-GrabThe annual Great Gravel Grab on the Otaki River bank was another resounding success, with over 250 car, truck and trailer loads of gravel and boulders being taken “home” for a wide variety of home garden projects.

“There’s been a steady stream of people from before 10am.” said Colin Munn, Greater Wellington flood operations team leader. “It’s an opportunity for us (GW) to interact with people.”

Eight year old Malachi Cummings was helping his grandparents to load their trailer before they build their rockery, at the Great Gravel Grab
Eight year old Malachi Cummings was helping his grandparents to load their trailer before they build their rockery, at the Great Gravel Grab

The Otaki Flood Protection depot guys had prepared the site a day or so before the event, on the riverbed west of the highway, below Winstone’s plant. They had graded two “roads’ down on the riverbed, one for people who wanted to hand-pick their stones and one closer to the river for those after a big mixed load which was loaded by one of the diggers on site.

Maxine and Judy Chandler sift gravel to make hypatufa
Maxine and Judy Chandler sift gravel to make hypatufa

A mother and daughter team, Maxine and Judy Chandler, from Waikanae sifted the finer gravel to get just what they wanted – several buckets of river sand, to use with cement to make hypatufa garden pots, while Jim Eaton from Otaihanga was getting a trailer load of boulders to put around his orchard trees to keep the chickens from scratching out the mulch. Others were making garden edges and rockeries.

By 11.35am 164 vehicles had checked in to collect the gravel they sought, with many coming back for more loads! Officially the gravel grab runs from 10am to 2pm, but there was already a queue at the gate when the Otaki depot guys arrived for the final setup.

The event is held every year, as part of Greater Wellington’s flood protection work. The gravel is extracted every year to help prevent flooding and keeping the riverbed at the correct level. The GW Flood Protection branch has resource consent to extract 50,000 cubic metres, about 3,820 truckloads a year!

By Margaret Andrews