After waiting all summer for a dangerous slip to move on its own accord, engineers are now exploring options to re-open the road to Ōtaki Forks, a key entry point to Tararua Forest Park. But don’t expect access to the Southern Crossing and other popular tracks any day soon.
In November 2020, the notorious Blue Bluff, close to the road end, was deemed unstable and closed, with engineers opting to wait for nature to take its course and the slip to clear.
Kapiti Coast District Council access and transport manager Glen O’Connor said the council is now reviewing that option and has commissioned a geotechnical survey of the slip, expected to be completed before winter.
“Depending on the survey results, we will need to come up with design options, and any work reinstating road access will be best undertaken outside the winter season.”
Heavy rain, a rising river at the base of the cliff or an earthquake are the natural forces that could contribute to further slipping, he said.
DOC is urging trampers to comply with the road closure.
“There have been reports of people biking and walking over the slip despite the closure signs,” said Robert Ashe, DOC senior recreation ranger. “The slip is likely to collapse at any point and council engineers have reported the cracks are getting bigger.”
Ashe said DOC has worked with two landowners to provide temporary walking access to Ōtaki Forks. The track takes about two hours and is well marked. Vehicles can be parked on the roadside or at the nearby Shields Flat Historic Reserve car park.
Ashe said it is a steep and slippery track and ‘not ideal’ but people used to Tararua tracks should cope.