State Highway 2 Waiotahe Beach now open following slip clearance


Contractors have made swift work of clearing a slip on State Highway 2 at Waiotahe Beach today and the road is now open to all traffic.

“Once geotechnical engineers assessed the site was stable enough for the clean up to begin, the team got straight into clearing debris off the road and getting the highway back open,” says Roger Brady, Waka Kotahi System Manager for the Bay of Plenty.

“The safety of road users and our contractors is our first priority, but we’re always striving to reduce the inconvenience to road users too, so we’re pleased that our contractors could get the highway back open so quickly.”

State Highway 2 has been closed between Waiotahi Valley Back Road & Paerata Ridge Road, west of Ōpōtiki, for two periods in recent weeks following slips. The first slip on the 19 October saw approximately 10,000 cubic metres of material came down onto the road. This latest slip, which came down in the early hours of yesterday morning following heavy rain, was much smaller.

“This is an active site and there’s on-going risk due to the instability of the cliffs. This latest slip was 200 cubic metres in size and came from the upper left side of the face that had already come down 13 days ago, says Mr Brady.

“Geotechnical engineers advise that more material is likely to slip again at this location should the area get more heavy rain.

“To ensure the ongoing safety of road users we are closing the shoulder closest to the cliff and installing a temporary speed limit of 50km/h past this site. Temporary caution signs will stay in place while we investigate installing permanent rockfall signage along this stretch of highway. We will also employ arborists to advise whether any overhanging trees need to be removed to shore up the cliff face.

“In addition we will continue to monitor the area with drive-by patrols twice a day, which we’ll increase to two-hourly if there is heavy rain in the area,” says Mr Brady.

The region has experienced significant rainfall, coastal surges and strong winds this year, all of which put pressure on a roading network that is already susceptible to unstable geology.

“Many Aotearoa New Zealand highways face similar risks due to the threat of climate change. Coastal erosion and frequent and prolonged extreme weather events are proving a big challenge for the whole country.

“The best advice we can give drivers is to be vigilant and drive to the conditions. Be aware that road hazards are a potential at any time. 

“Both Waka Kotahi and our contractors would like to extend our thanks to road users, who have been detoured via Ōpōtiki District Council roads. We appreciate you tolerating a temporary speed limit here now. Your safety is our primary concern.”