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Waves rip a hole out of Cape Palliser road

Heavy swell has eaten chunks out of Cape Palliser Rd. PHOTOS/MARY ARGUE

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Heavy waves have ripped chunks out of Cape Palliser Rd, prompting road closures and warnings to motorists on the south coast.

Consistently large swells on South Wairarapa’s coast have drawn surfers from around New Zealand over the past couple of days, but left parts of the road in tatters.

South Wairarapa District Council urged motorists on Cape Palliser Rd to travel with caution on Wednesday and said the road would be closed from 6pm.

The council said it would be reassessed early yesterday morning.

Giant sections of the road, the length of a station wagon, had fallen into the surf at Turners Bay.

A Fulton Hogan contractor was erecting signage on Wednesday afternoon reducing the road to one lane and clearing debris.

Speed limits have also been lowered from 100kmh to 30kmh in affected areas.

Owner of Waimeha Camping Village John Priest said April was the month for swells, and said waves had been consistently large over several days.

“We’ve had a lot bigger swells for sure, but it’s been significant.”

He suspected the road had become tender over time and called for more proactive maintenance to avoid further washouts.

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office issued a heavy swell warning for the region on Sunday through until Wednesday.

“Please continue to take care while driving on Wairarapa Coast roads that are directly exposed to the sea, such as Cape Palliser Rd, Tora Farm Settlement Rd and Mataikona Rd.”

SWDC issued a timely statement on April 23 announcing a world-first trial of an EcoReef to help protect the coastal road.

“A dramatic rise in severe weather conditions has increased the number of road closures at the Cape, cutting residents off and creating expensive damage.”

It said Agmar Tool’s “reef” of interlocking aggregate-filled hexagonal blocks would replace the current protective boulders.

The council said the first reef was place at Whatarangi and a second would be installed at Turners Bay in the summer months.

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