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Future of Brynderwyns highway to be considered



13 Feb, 2023


thumbnail 3 MF-Bryns1 copy-27As another system of wild wet weather with seriously high winds in the name of Cyclone Gabrielle sets its sights on the top of the country [at time of print], east Kaipara’s main route north remains in a vulnerable state from the last deluge.

Finally open now in both directions with temporary speed restrictions and traffic management in place, SH1 over the fabulous Brynderwyn Ranges suffered around 14 landslips of varying sizes from the heavy rainfall which fell in the area just a few weeks ago. With extreme weather predicted to become more regular due to fluctuations in the natural environment such as climate change, the Focus asked Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency what the future holds for the main route, to protect the natural beauty of the Brynderwyns, as well as ensure the safety of travellers.

Although not able to provide specific engineering details as the agency are currently still in the response phase, regional manager for maintenance and operations, Jacqui Hori-Hoult, did say that they are aware the stretch of road is susceptible to adverse weather conditions.

“Once we have moved from the response stage to the recovery phase, we will consider ways to ensure this critical route can be more resilient,” she says. “Our priority first and foremost is to keep everyone safe.

“A slip on the south of the waterfall is being closely monitored by our crews and geotechnical engineers as well as additional slips and ground movement. Once we have certainty that this area is safe and all necessary checks have been completed, we can re-open the road in both directions.”

Waka Kotahi has been working closely with freight groups, local authorities and police to ensure the safety of all road users on both SH1 and the available detour routes, Hori-Hoult says.

“We thank road users for their patience… and urge motorists to use caution and drive to the conditions.”

While on duty during the recent storm, Wellsford/Mangawhai senior constable, Dale Wewege, says there were no serious incidents to report besides vehicles submerged in flooded roads.

“It didn’t help that there were reportedly 16 slips between the Brynderwyns, Dome Valley and along the state highway. Most of our rescues were for people trying to get to places that they actually could have cancelled for another day,” he says. “I think the lesson to learn here is, when we experience a flood situation, don’t go out unless necessary, please stay at home.”






A pod of pines cling to sodden earth along the edge of one of the major SH1 landslides in the Brynderwyn Ranges. A drive-by count tallied around 14 landslips of varying sizes along the main road. PHOTO/JULIA WADE

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