Investigative Work To Restore Access to Ōtaki Forks kicks off

Detailed investigative work to begin the process of reinstating access to Ōtaki Forks following a road closure last year has kicked off.

The Ōtaki Gorge Rd has been closed at the area known as Blue Bluff (12km from SH1) since September 2020 after the road slumped towards the river following heavy rain. The road has continued to deteriorate since and is closed to both vehicles and walkers for safety reasons.

Blue Bluff slip ; Otaki Gorge; road

Access and Transport Manager Glen O’Connor says Council is moving from a monitoring phase to active investigation with the aim of reopening access.

“When the under slip was discovered in September our initial plan was to let nature take its course and then see what we were dealing with,” Mr O’Connor says. “The road has moved and cracks have continued to grow, however full failure of the slip has not occurred. The slumped material remains a significant hazard.”

The specialised geotechnical investigation includes test pits, core holes and installation of equipment to monitor ground water levels. 

“This work will give us further information for what we need to do to reopen the road.

“It will tell us where the extent of the under slip is and where solid ground is located. This will be key information for our design process.”

The on-site investigative work is scheduled to be finished by late May. This leads onto developing options and a viable design for how the road can be reopened.

Close-up photo of road damage

“We will keep updating the public as plans develop,” Mr O’Connor says. “This is a significant piece of work and at this stage there is no timeframe for when reopening could occur.”

Visit kapiticoast.govt.nz/otaki-gorge-road for more information, to see images of the damaged road, and to learn more about alternative walking access to the Tararua Forest Park.

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