Horizons Regional Council restricts river access as a precaution

Horizons Regional Council is working with river users to restrict on-water activities through Te Apiti - Manawatu Gorge as a safety precaution.

The Gorge has been closed to traffic since two large land slips blocked the road in April. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) geotechnical reports have identified that rock conditions remain unstable and further slips are possible.

Horizons emergency manager Ian Lowe says due to the high risk of rock fall into the Manawatū River the Council has restricted on-water activities on the stretch of the river through the Gorge until further notice.

“Under our navigation safety function we are advising all river users to keep clear of the stretch between the road bridge downstream of Ferry Reserve and the confluence of the Manawatū and Pohangina rivers. Signage advising this will be erected at Ferry Reserve, the Ashhurst end carpark to the walking tracks and Ashhurst Domain.

“At this stage we are not sure how long this stretch of the river will need to be avoided. However, public safety is our top priority, and with the potential for large boulders to fall into the river, this restricted access is absolutely necessary.”

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon says the Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge walking tracks remain open and encourages the public to continue using them.

“While the river and road are closed, the tracks are still open for business. Based on information from NZTA’s geotechnical reports, we have determined the tracks are at least 300 metres away from the furthest possible slip area in established native forest, and at very low risk of being affected.

“Signage regarding track status is also going to be established at the road closure barrier in the next few weeks. This will indicate if there has been any impact on the tracks as a result of a slip.”

Mr Lowe says Horizons is working closely with a number of agencies such as NZTA, the Department of Conservation, local Councils and Police to plan for a number of possible scenarios.

“This includes a slip potentially causing a partial blockage in the river. While we cannot predict when this may happen we’d like to be prepared just in case.”

Members of the public are reminded to please stay away from the slip site and not proceed beyond the locked gate at the entrances to the Gorge. For more information on the Gorge road closure go to this NZTA web page and for track information please see the alerts page on our website.