Work is getting underway to clear and stabilise the slip-prone bank on Ōtaki Gorge Road at Blue Bluff. Once the work is complete in several months’ time, access to the camping grounds and Tararua Forest Park will be restored.
Vehicles involved in the work include a 36-tonne excavator and 30-tonne dump trucks. They’ll be accessing the site via private property, meaning no disruption to regular users of Ōtaki Gorge Road.
Mayor Ross Church says geotechnical investigations over the last two months show an estimated 45,000 cubic metres of rock and other debris will need to be removed to allow the hillside to be stabilised.
“Our monitoring has given us a much clearer picture of what’s going on up there and we’re really pleased to be able to get cracking on getting the road re-opened.
“Clearly it’s important for property owners and Department of Conservation staff who have been cut off by the slip. It’s also good news for the many people who have been missing the tramping, camping and other outdoor activities on offer in the Tararua Forest Park.”
Mayor Church says the work could take two to three months and has an estimated price tag of $500,000, almost half of which will be covered by a contribution from the NZ Transport Agency’s emergency works fund.
“We know the length of the closure has been frustrating for a number of people and we’re grateful for everybody’s patience while our investigations and monitoring were underway.
“We’re confident that as long as the weather and conditions at the site remain on our side we’ll be able to have the work completed and the road reopened before winter. It’s clear from our monitoring that this area will remain geologically active and will require ongoing management.”
Mayor Church says it is still important that, for their own safety, people stay away from the slip site.
Ōtaki Community Board chair James Cootes says it will be great news not only to those from Ōtaki but also to people from outside the district who enjoy all the Tararuas have to offer.
“I’m sure many are looking forward to getting back up there and it will be great to see the campsite and car park full again.”