Visitors to the Far North at Easter will be able to take the direct route via State Highway 1 through the Mangamuka Gorge.
The gorge route will be open to light vehicles from Easter Friday to Monday (2-5 April) between 8:00am and 7:00pm. Heavy vehicles will have to keep using the SH10 detour route.
“Vehicles will travel in one-way convoys approximately every fifteen minutes over the 4.2km route. They will be escorted by lead and tail vehicles to ensure everyone sticks together and gets through before the next convoy sets off,” says Waka Kotahi Northland System Manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult.
“Convoys will run continuously through the day, without waiting for a set number of vehicles before setting off. It will be a bit like a stop/go traffic operation, except that each line of vehicles will be escorted.”
“Motorists will have to approach the convoys with some flexibility as they won’t run to a strict timetable. It will depend on how many vehicles turn up on the day. People might miss getting on the end of a convoy and have to wait up to twenty minutes for the next one.”
The road is still reduced to one lane past two slip work sites on the northern side of the gorge summit. It’s been closed since a big storm last July, though it was open for three weeks over Christmas.
“Waka Kotahi wants to open the gorge over the Easter holiday weekend because of the benefits visitors will bring to the local economy. But also, for the local community, it provides a break from the extra time and cost of having to use SH10 detour route, which adds 20-30 minutes to the journey.”
“If the Easter convoys work well and there’s a demand, we’ll look to open the road to convoys on most weekends after Easter.”
“There will be some weekends where the repair work is at a stage where it won’t be possible for safety reasons to allow the public through the work area. We’ll give 24 hours notice of those weekend closures.”
Jacqui Hori-Hoult says work to restore the road to two lanes by the middle of the year is going to plan. The total estimated cost of the Mangamuka Gorge repairs is 13.8M. This includes the ongoing slip repairs and the cost of the initial emergency response to last July’s storm damage which closed the road.
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