State highway 2 which connects the Bay of Plenty town of Opotiki to Gisborne will remain closed until further notice due to a major slip. The slip was capture on film by Michael Tabudravu travelling from Gisborne to Opotiki today- he is happy to be alive.
“[I] came around the corner and half the road slipped out and there were like three other cars on the other side of the slip, saw rocks slipping at the time, I got out my phone and starting recording all of it,” says Tabudravu.
Motorists were being stopped by road contractors outside of Opotiki.
Access to SH2 is open only to those living in the small settlement of Waioeka. The slip is located between Oponae (Waiata Rd) and Wairata (Wairata Rd), midway between Opotiki and Matawai which is known as the halfway point between Opotiki and Gisborne.
Deputy Mayor of Opotiki Lyn Riesterer says, “The alternatives are very difficult for us, we've got a five hour round-trip right around the coast which is lovely if you have got the time. The other alternative is really only [possible] for four wheel drive and that's up from Matawai and going up to the Motu village and over the hills.”
Slips along the Waioeka Gorge are not new. In 2012, major road improvements took place following another significant slip.
NZTA spent between $5-20 million.
“It's huge for the truckies, a lot of the goods that come from Gisborne through to the Tauranga port come through that gorge and they are going to be held up, the logging trucks will only be able to possibly do one run a day instead of two”.
Contractors and geotechnical engineers were assessing the stability of the site today. NZTA says it's too early to predict when the road will be able to be safely re-opened to traffic and have asked motorists to use SH35 as an alternative route.