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Otaki Gorge Road has reopened

Crews removed 47 swimming pools' worth of dirt above the road. Photo: Kapiti Coast District Council

Otaki Gorge Road has reopened after a long and messy bout of slips and instability in the area.

The road in the Tararua Forest Park was closed due to concerns over stability of the hillside in December 2015, when workers found deep fissures 100m above the road that indicated the land was likely to be moving. Then, a heavy rain caused a big slip in the area in February, creating an even more precarious situation, with rocks, soil and debris dangling above the road.

The road closure meant restricted access for the Otaki Forks recreation area; DOC established a temporary track in February for trampers. The road also provides local access for a few residents in the area.

For the past few months, contractors have removed a total of 70,000m3 of earth – enough dirt to fill a 47 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Workers have cut wide steps into the slip face and reduced the angle of the slope to minimise the risk of debris blocking the road.

In a statement, Kapiti Coast District Council’s infrastructure services manager Sean Mallon said: “It’s been massive job and we’re delighted to get the road opened in time for the second week of the school holidays. It’s great news for Ōtaki and we know local businesses will be pleased to see visitors to the popular tourist attraction coming back into our district.”

The work cost the council about $500,000, half of which was covered by a contribution from the NZ Transport Agency’s emergency works fund.