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The Kāpiti Coast District Council released images showing large cracks on Ōtaki Gorge Road at Blue Bluff.
Ōtaki Gorge Road was closed at Blue Bluff to the public after an advisory was announced by the Kāpiti Coast District Council on November 3 that the road was closed from the end of September until further notice due to the cracks causing growing concern.
The road is 12km inland from State Highway 1, it remains unstable and will most likely be closed for the rest of the summer period.
The Council’s Access and Transport Manager Glen O’Conner said in the advisory that expert geotechnical advise advised further slipping could occur at any time without much notice, and it could be sudden and extensive.
“Safety is our key concern, and we simply can’t keep the road open while this is the situation,” Mr O’Connor said.
Over the last few weeks, the cracks have increased significantly in size, including new holes that have formed.
It is said that the slip will need to occur for the area to settle down before any work can begin to reinstate road access.
The road is on a steep embankment above the Ōtaki River which has naturally degraded the river bed and embankments. Intensive rainfall also adds to the problem and brings challenges to the road’s infrastructure.
Ōtaki Councillor and transport portfolio holder, James Coots, said the slip was disappointing, as the popular Ōtaki Forks camping grounds is a traditional spot for travellers during summer. It means the road will be inaccessible for the foreseeable future.
“With summer approaching I am sure many were planning to spend some time at what is one of the jewels in the Kāpiti crown, but safety must come first,” Mr Cootes said.
“It’s really important that everyone keeps off this section of road. The risks are real, and we have seen what can happen down there before. Staff will continue to monitor the area and consider what other options we have if the situation doesn’t change in the short term.”
During 2016, large amounts of rocks, dirt, and debris fell off the bank following heavy rainfall which required the road to be rebuilt over stabilised rubble.
Department of Conservation said in a statement that they are working to find alternative public access to the huts and walks at the Tararua Forest Park — “The Otaki Gorge Road is closed to vehicles and pedestrians until further notice. We’re working to find alternative public access to the huts and walks in the Tararua Forest Park.”
Images: Kāpiti Coast District Council