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Cape Palliser road to ruin in less than one month

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Repairs to South Wairarapa’s Cape Palliser Rd have lasted less than one month, with large swells once again taking chunks out of the tarmac.

The road saw similar damage at the same location after a storm made South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] close the road overnight on April 27.

Swells of seven metres greatly exceeded MetService’s warning of up to five metres issued last week, and damage reduced parts of the road to a single lane.

In a statement issued yesterday, MetService issued a warning of more swells to come.

Cape Palliser Rd
About a week after last month’s damage, contractors had patched up the road.

“Large southwest swells battered exposed coasts over the weekend, including south-facing coasts in Wellington and Wairarapa where seven-metre waves damaged some coastal roads,” a MetService spokesperson said.

“MetService is forecasting another period of large south to southwest swell waves to affect southern and eastern coasts of New Zealand on Wednesday and Thursday, which will likely result in further warnings being issued, including for Wellington’s south coast.”

Yesterday, contractors could be seen blocking off large chunks of missing tarmac with boulders taken from just up the coast.

One contractor at the site said he thought the road should be brought back away from the beach to give it a few more years of stability.

“If I was the owner, I would bring the road back.

“With large swells expected on Wednesday, we could fix it up today [Monday] and then be back again this week.”

SWDC chief executive Harry Wilson said the council was preparing for further swells later in the week.

“The road remains open. However, more heavy swells are forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, so the job at hand is to shore up and protect the damage from getting worse.

“Winter weather on the remote south coast can make some types of repair difficult. Our focus in the short term is on making repairs that will keep the road open for tourists and Cape Palliser residents. When the weather improves and time allows, final
works can be completed.”

Wilson said EcoReef, a protective wall made out of hexagonal concrete blocks, would be constructed at Turners Bay to protect the road.

The wall had already been successfully trialled further along Cape Palliser Rd, and the tarmac there was undamaged after the weekend’s swells.

“One of the worst-hit places was Turners Bay which is a known trouble spot, and it is hoped that this will be the second spot for a trial EcoReef in the future.

“It is a fair assumption that the severity and frequency of weather events along the coast will increase because of climate change. The latest information from SeaRise about coastal erosion and land levels will no doubt inform the long-term fate of this and many other coastal roads.”


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