Community marks opening of the Marainanga Gorge Road

Published on 31  August  2023

Community marks opening of the Marainanga Gorge Road.

Mayor Tracey Collis, Councillors, community members, iwi, staff from Tararua Alliance and the Tararua Cyclone Recovery programme were onsite on Thursday 31st of August to mark the opening of the Marainanga Gorge Road.

The road was extensively damaged during Cyclone Gabrielle, with approximately 300m completely washed away into the Aohanga River, and has not been open to the public since February 14.

The repair has been no small task with the replacement road rebuilt 10m up from river level.  Active collaboration has assisted in getting the road open as quickly as possible in challenging winter conditions.  “The opportunity to work together with iwi and Horizons Regional Council, alongside experienced local contractors is what has allowed the works to progress as rapidly as they have, and what has also given us the confidence to work in a relatively sensitive environment,” says Tararua Alliance Capital Projects Manager Andrew Desmond.

With initial works to open thoroughfare complete, further works are scheduled on site to strengthen the remaining roads formation and address resilience issues.  Desmond goes on to say, “It’s a fragile site and its crucial people keep that in mind when using the Gorge Road. The bank below the remaining portion of road leading down to the river has scoured significantly, leaving a narrow passageway for about 50 meters. We need people to understand there are risks, and to take it easy on the new road.”

Mayor Tracey Collis is grateful for the patience of the local community and the hard work of the roading crews and local contractors in working to get the road rebuilt and open again.  “Today is a significant milestone in our recovery. Losing this road so dramatically during the cyclone has not been easy for our people in the surrounding area.  It’s been a stressful time and some residents have had to endure considerable additional travel to go about their daily lives and run their businesses.”

She goes on to say “We hope that the reopening of the Marainanga Gorge Road brings some relief to our communities in the area. I want to say a heartfelt thank you to those on Coast Road, Marainanga Road, Owahanga Road and the surrounding properties for their understanding and perseverance, and we’re glad we could share this opening with many of them today.”

While the Marainanga Gorge is now officially open to traffic, motorists are urged to remember work on the project is not fully complete, therefore the Gorge Road will be subject to further short closures as work continues.

A strict speed limit of 30kmph is in place through the Gorge, and there is a single lane stretch with a priority give way system operating, which has always been the case.  Motorists using the Gorge are advised there is no stopping as they are travelling through.

The road is not recommended for campervans or large buses and to avoid further degradation, loaded vehicles are encouraged to use the alternative route on River Road.

The site will continue to be closely monitored as works continue to complete the repair.