Ōtaki Gorge Road to remain closed at Blue Bluff for summer peak
The section of Ōtaki Gorge Road known as Blue Bluff remains unstable and will likely remain closed for the peak summer period. The area 12km in from SH1 has in recent weeks shown significant movement and is in the process of slipping.
Kāpiti Coast District Council Access and Transport Manager Glen O’Connor says expert geotechnical advice is that further slipping could occur at any time, and may 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 says.“Essentially we are in nature’s hands and have to wait for a slip to occur and for the area to settle before we can begin any work on reinstating road access.”
Mr O’Connor says while it is difficult to predict when future major slipping may occur monitoring shows the area is active. “In the last few weeks we have seen cracks significantly increase in size and new cracks and holes form.”
Once the slip does occur it will take time to clear and reinstate access, which may include having to construct a new section of road.
“We want to let people know this situation is not a quick fix and we ask for patience,” Mr O’Connor says.
Mr O’Connor says there are significant risks and costs associated with trying to remove the unstable area of the road by force, but if monitoring shows the slip is not moving naturally, Council will need to review its options. Currently the site is assessed weekly.
Ōtaki Councillor and transport portfolio holder James Cootes says it is disappointing the popular Ōtaki Forks camping area and Tararua Forest Park will be inaccessible by road in the coming months.
“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 says.
“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.”
The Department of Conservation is working to find alternative public access to the huts and walks in the Tararua Forest Park and this is expected to be open for summer.
Visit the Department of Conservation website for more information on alternative access.