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Kairakau Road Rebuild

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In November last year Kairakau Road was hit with heavy rainfall which caused the road to collapse at the 7.1km mark. This meant the road was blocked and had to be closed to all vehicle traffic.

We know this road is a really important lifeline to the Kairakau and Mangakuri communities. After its closure, residents were redirected to an alternative route that meant travel time increased significantly.

We recognise the negative impact the road closure has had, so we have been working diligently with our technical partners to provide single-lane access while we find a permanent and durable solution. 

November - December 2022

Where are we at now and what is coming up?

Kairakau road image 1The team are working to have the road subbase completed before Christmas. Works will commence again on January 9th  2023 and this will involve installing and compacting the basecourse, adding the stabilisation layer on top of this, sealing and line-marking the new road, as well as installing the guardrails. The traffic can then be diverted to the new road, and soon after the road will be fully opened.
What does this mean for the road between now and completion?
Between now and completion, which includes the Christmas period, traffic moving in either direction will be required to continue using the temporary single lane. Any traffic over the new road, ahead of full completion, comes with a risk of adding additional cost to the project and possible damage to the subgrade.
We are fully aware this road is an important lifeline to the Kairakau and Mangakuri communities and understand the inconvenience that comes with single lane traffic. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to get this project through to completion as soon as possible.

On behalf of the entire project team - have a safe and happy Christmas, and thank you for your support and patience as we work to rebuild this key road.

September - October 2022

What has been happening and where are we now?

Though the wet weather continued to prove challenging well into October, progress has remained steady and with spring now here, we are seeing much drier conditions. 

September Kairakau RoadWe prioritised construction of a new culvert and subsoil drains to control rain water run off and underground springs which is now complete. This has allowed the site to dry out faster after heavy rain, therefore lessening the disruption to the work programme going forwards. 

On the earthworks front, the Higgins teams have utilised the fine weather to recommence the main cut of the site and start on what is known as ‘benching’; this is a standard method for road construction in New Zealand. The process involves cutting the earth and compacting it to create 'steps'. Looser material (known as fill) is then placed on top of these earth 'steps', compacted down and shaped.  The steps will act as a sturdy base and essentially 'lock' the fill material together. By doing this we prevent the fill from slipping over the base material, especially during periods of rain. This makes the finished road and the slope it sits on more stable.

Where to from here?

Tests will be conducted on benches to ensure they are strong enough before we begin filling.
The benching and filling process will continue until we are at the same height as the current road.
Once we have reached this level, we can begin to mark out the new road alignment and prepare the road for asphalting.
The wet conditions we experienced until recently have certainly made for tight timeframes, but the team are 100% committed to working towards an end of year completion date as planned.

We thank you in advance for your patience while our teams complete this work.

June 2022

What has been happening?
The Higgins team have been undertaking earthworks over the past few weeks. They've installed a temporary barrier to catch any falling sediment and built a nearby pond to capture any soil that could wash away during rainfall. This will also protect the water quality of any nearby waterways.
Where are we now?
We are pleased to say earthworks for the new road layout began last week. The team are now removing vegetation and clearing existing fencing in preparation for the new road.

Where to from here?
Over the next few weeks, Higgins will focus on drainage work and stripping topsoil across the site. They will then cut away the top section of the hillside closest to the damaged portion of the road, so they can begin filling the gully where the new road will be built.
kairakau road update photo

31542127 eda2 101c df7e cad3c6428de2May 2022

What has been happening?
We know this road is a really important lifeline to the Kairakau and Mangakuri communities. After its closure, residents were redirected to an alternative route that meant travel time increased significantly.

We recognise the negative impact the road closure has had, so we have been working diligently with our technical partners to provide single-lane access while we find a permanent and durable solution. 
Where are we now?
We have been working with Stantec to complete geotechnical evaluations and design the new layout for this section of Kairakau Road. We now have the additional land that was required and have awarded the construction contract to local firm, Higgins.

Where to from here?
We are pleased to say site preparation is set to begin next week. Firstly, the existing fence will be removed and a new fence will be built along the boundary. The team will then clear vegetation and kick off earthworks, creating a new foundation for the road.

Check out the aerial 3D design below so you can see what this new stretch of road will look like.
kairakau road rebuild

24 February 2022

In our last update we promised to have a single lane access open by December 21st. We were successful in our efforts and opened the route on December 14th 2021. We would like to thank-you for your support and patience during that time.

Although it may appear that not much has happened since the opening of the single lane, we have not been idle. In the background we have been working hard on the agreements with Waka Kotahi (our funding partner) formerly NZTA, to ensure all is in place for construction of the full 2 lane access to begin.

We have also been working with the landowners to acquire the land we need for the new road. While we are still completing this step, we have also been finalising the design for the new road and completing the drilling required to finalise the pavement design.

Physical work on the site is expected to recommence in early March with a completion date of June 30th 2022.

We appreciate your on-going patience and support and will provide updates every 2 weeks once physical work starts on site.

There may be some minor delays encountered during this construction especially towards the end so we can tie the new road into the existing road. We ask that you be courteous to our workers.

14 December 2021

Higgins Contractors have managed to complete the design and rebuild of a single lane road in little over a month. Traffic will be controlled by safety signage, a 30km speed limit and priority give-way. Higgins will continue to monitor the lane on a daily basis.

Kairakau road opens one lane

10 December 2021

Higgins contractors have been busy constructing a single lane temporary access since early November and have made great progress. With the use of a 29 tonne excavator and a 30 tonne Moxy dumper they have cleared all of the area required to build the new access, excavating over 700 cubic metres in one day.

30 November 2021

Higgins are currently making good progress in efforts to restore single lane access to Kairakau.

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26 November 2021

On Wednesday, Council met with residents from Kairakau and Mangakuri to discuss a  stage approach to restoring access to these beachside communities after Kairakau Roadsuffered significant movement at the 7.1km mark after heavy rain earlier in the month.

Stage 1 began yesterday and will see a single lane priority access available for use by 21 December.

The second stage will involve ongoing investigations and design of a permanent route situated away from the landslide area which will continue while the single lane access is being completed.

This project is more complex and involves other stakeholders but it is forecast to be completed mid next year.


12 November 2021

Specialist geotechnical drilling equipment is being used to investigate best possible solution for a safe staged rebuild to reopen of Kairakau Road, with some test results expected back this afternoon.

Drill testing is analysing the structure of the geology beneath the road and surrounding area, to enable us to understand the make up of the land.

This will allow us to understand what solutions are feasible in the staged rebuild of Kairakau Road. 

Tests so far, alongside aerial footage, have informed that the slip is significantly larger than what was originally understood, and extends further than the marked road into the surrounding countryside. As of yesterday (11 November) the land above, below and beneath the road was still moving.

Unfortunately, this means that it is not possible to reopen the road safely by digging a lane out. It is also not a possibility to install a Bailey Bridge, due to the span of the slump.

Further test results will determine that the proposed land for the new section of road is safe from the ongoing slip, and along with land negotiations, will determine the next steps in confirming the best possible solution for the roads reopening.

Council has met with Waka Kotahi NZTA on site and confirmed that the staged rebuild of the road is eligible for an agreed share of funding.

Council will release a timeline for the safe reopening of the road as soon as possible.

Elsthorpe school bus route:

Council is continuing to work with landowners to negotiate an access point for children to reach the school bus, around the slip.

Road maintenance along detour route:

Planned road resealing will take place next week to waterproof and extend the life of roads along the detour route.

Working hours have been limited to avoid commuter traffic.

This road maintenance is necessary to ensure the surface of the road remains safe for the increased number of road users, and is particularly important due to the spouts of wet and hot weather forecasted in the coming weeks.

Road signage

Road signage to clarify the detour route has been ordered for installation at key points. Maps are being delivered to key locations for the benefit of road users travelling through the area.

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10 November 2021

  • Central Hawke’s Bay District Council has established the best and most efficient short term solution for the safe reopening of Kairakau Road is likely to be the build of a new section of road, around the slip.
  • Investigations on the state of the road are continuing however indicate that the slip is ongoing, and its impact may be too great to allow for the road to be repaired on its current site, either in the short or long term.
  • Council is continuing to focus on immediate short term access solutions for school children, medium-term temporary access for light vehicles and long term permanent reinstatement of a 2 lane road. Now, Council is working with land owners and its funding partner (Waka Kotahi) to put plans in motion for these options.
  • Signed detours are in place through Mangakuri Road, Clareinch Road, Pourerere Road and River Road however road users are advised to take extra caution, as this route is less frequently used.
  • Concrete boulders are in place at the access points of the slip following reports of cars failing to stop.

Both lanes of Kairakau Road have been closed at approximately the 7.1km mark following significant road movement, brought on by many days of persistent rain. Council is working urgently to find the best possible solution to the fix and safe reopening of the road in both the short and long term.

Detours are in place however please be cautious as these routes are less-frequently used and are currently very wet. The diversion route will be Mangakuri Road, Clareinch Road, Pourerere Road and River Road and signs are in place to mark this.

Ongoing slow movement has been occurring in this section of road over a long period of time, with a known slump worsening in recent weeks. Major repairs - which would have involved the excavation, re-stabilising and rebuilding of the site - were planned for summer, however yesterday's significant and unprecedented slip means that this approach is no longer possible. The slip has occurred following last week's heavy deluge of rain, and the team will now be using specialist geotechnical drilling equipment to achieve a thorough understanding of the full issue and what options exist to resolve it.

We know this is an important route for many of you and the impact of the road closure is severe. Currently, the team is focusing on short term solutions to get the road back up and running, before planning for the long term fix, which may take some months.

If you are impacted by the Kairakau Road closure and have questions or concerns, please contact Council on 06 857 8060. Our Roading Team are working to compile information to help us to understand requirements, and are available to speak to you.

ResizedImageWzYwMCw0NTBd Kairakau Road Slip 9 November 2

ResizedImageWzYwMCw0NTBd Kairakau Road Slip 8 November 2021 1


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