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April 2022 Issue
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Repair work begins on Heaphy Track

The Heaphy River suspension bridge has been damaged beyond repair

Work on repairing damage to the storm-ravaged Heaphy Track has begun, although through-trips remain off the cards.

DOC closed the track in February after torrential rain swept through the West Coast and the 147m-long Heaphy River suspension bridge was written off.

The Gunner River bridge was also damaged, the Pitt Creek bridge washed away and there was a slip on Mackay Hill.

The track has since been partially reopened for return trips from Golden Bay and the West Coast, but the section between James Mackay and Heaphy huts is likely to remain closed for several months.

Work began in March to salvage the Heaphy Bridge for parts that can be used in a replacement bridge and to clear the site, said Suvi van Smit, DOC’s Buller operations manager.

DOC has been liaising with Niwa over rainfall and river flows in the Heaphy catchment.

“With the increasing frequency of flooding, this information is crucial to decisions about a replacement bridge over the Heaphy River, such as its location and height,” van Smit said.

Meanwhile, the Whanganui Journey was closed by DOC on March 1 after four paddlers coming off the river tested positive for Covid-19.

Whanganui operations manager Connie Norgate said the department would look to reopen the Great Walk after they’d deep cleaned facilities.