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Palliser takes a pounding

The coastline of Palliser Bay was battered on Tuesday by massive swells that smashed a section of Cape Palliser Rd at Te Kopi Homestead.

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] closed the road yesterday while contractors assessed the damage.

The road opened again in the afternoon, but the council imposed a temporarily reduced speed limit and advised road users to take extreme caution while driving there.

SWDC said the roading crew will inspect the road early this morning and continue with permanent repairs on the swell-damaged sections of road.

The council also said it would continue to monitor the road until the Metservice swell warning ended at 9pm Wednesday.

Cape Palliser Rd is closed from Te Kopi homestead until further notice after heavy swells damaged the road on Tuesday night.

Metservice had forecast swells up to 6m, and although it didn’t measure the waves inside Palliser Bay, it recorded 5.7m swells at Wellington’s Bearing Head early yesterday morning.

Rob Bargh was en route to his bach out on the coast when he learned of the Cape Palliser Rd closure. “Lucky I wasn’t already out there. The hole is about 10m long, since the contractors have been working on it,” he said.

“I go out there quite a lot. It’s happened before along this road, but it’s unusual that it’s this wide.”

Bargh said the damage was “quite a long way” from where the location of the “fantastic” EcoReef structures, which SWDC confirmed were unharmed.

The experimental structures were installed earlier this year to help strengthen the battered coastline.

Massive swells damaged the path from Lake Ferry Hotel to Palliser Bay.

The coast at Lake Ferry was also overrun by waves that crashed through Lake Onoke’s narrow mouth, washing rock and wood debris onto the access road between Lake Ferry Hotel to the beach.

Local Pete Lam Sam said the waves “came in and blew the mouth wide open”.

He said large waves were breaking over the headland into Lake Onoke and eroding the cliff face next to the track, causing rocks to fall on the road.

“The wider the mouth becomes, the more the wave erodes the track; it’s becoming a health hazard,” he said.

Lam Sam pointed out the track is one of only two accesses to Palliser Bay on the east side of Lake Onoke, so it is essential to fix it.

Massive swells damaged the path from Lake Ferry Hotel to Palliser Bay.

He said the council or locals would eventually clear the track, but that’s not a long-term solution.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened – the road runs under a shear cliff face, and it’s a hazard.”

Additional reporting by Mary Argue.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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