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Thankful tourists slip out of Tora

Tourists trapped on the coast by a massive slip at Tora in the aftermath of Cyclone Hale are grateful to the community for helping get them out.

A group of 12 cyclists and two hikers were unable to leave Te Awaiti when a large slip closed the road on the Tora Gorge last Wednesday night.

According to Stuart Edwards, co-owner of Martinborough’s Green Jersey Explorer Tours, the cyclists had chosen to travel by bus that day because of the weather, and their vehicle through the Tora Gorge at about 3.30 PM.

Although “things changed very quickly out there once the rain came in” and “the water came up really fast”, the group got safely to their destination at Te Awaiti in time and bunked down for the night.

They woke to find the power had failed overnight [it was restored by Thursday lunchtime] and that they were on the wrong side of a 50-metre-long slip on Tora Rd.

“The people were wonderful. We had excellent communication. The group did not feel stuck or unsafe at all,” Edwards said.

“The community out there is an amazing example of resilience. We were really stoked,” he said.

Two of the cyclists and two hikers from the Tora Walk were escorted out over the slip at lunchtime on Thursday after it was determined it was safe to do so.

“There was not full vehicle access at that stage, so they went across with help, two by two,” Edwards said.

The 10 remaining cycling tourists left on Friday morning when they were able to exit across the slip with their bikes.

Edwards said safety was paramount at all times, and the tourists had terrain-appropriate mountain bikes.

“We were never going to take a risk with our clients.”

Along with Edwards’ own two-way system, the area’s recently installed public internet and upgraded cellphone tower had been vital: “We were able to keep in touch and get information through.”

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