Less than two years after 2016’s devastating Kaikōura Earthquake, the new Ōhau Point safe stopping area will open on Thursday this week, 18 October, ahead of Labour Weekend.
The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) team has worked hard to stabilise slopes, design and install the sea walls and to complete the construction of the safe stopping area this year.
Ōhau Point is the first in a series of new safe stopping areas to be completed along State Highway 1 (SH1), says Colin Knaggs, Owner Interface Manager for the NZ Transport Agency. “This is part of a $200 million package of works designed to improve safety, resilience, access and journey reliability between Clarence and Oaro, a 60km stretch of the Kaikōura coast.
“The Ōhau Point safe stopping area, with space for 20 cars, provides the local community and visitors with a safe place to stop and take a break while viewing the outstanding coastline and the famous home of Ōhau’s protected fur seals.
“Ōhau Point was one of the areas most damaged by the Kaikōura earthquake in November 2016. The land was pushed up by seven metres. After investigating rebuild options for SH1 such as a tunnel and a bridge, the road was rebuilt out towards the sea on new terrain protected by a seawall. This option was chosen as the most appropriate as it includes protection from future seismic activity and major weather events.
“It’s been an incredible feat of engineering to get to this stage less than two years after the earthquake. Once the other safe stopping areas are built, people will be able to enjoy this beautiful coastline at a number of safe, well designed areas.”
While the safe stopping area will open this week, the public can expect some exciting developments still to come at Ōhau Point.
Eco-sourced planting and detailed cultural design elements will be completed in the New Year at Ōhau Point. To reflect the cultural significance of the Kaikōura Coast, iwi artists and carvers will be asked to be involved in the development of key designs across all the Transport Agency’s safe stopping areas.
“This includes pouwhenua and interpretation panels as well as detailed patterning to structures like furniture, handrails and barriers. Planting and other landscape design will help to integrate the safe stopping areas into the natural coastal environment,” says Mr Knaggs.
The Ōhau Stream walk remains closed because it is unsafe with a high risk of rockfall due to earthquake damage. Public access is also currently restricted in this area due to the ongoing SH1 reconstruction work.
The best place to view seals currently is at Kaikōura Peninsula, just south of the township.
Tresca Forrester, Network Operations Manager, for the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery team, advises people travelling along SH1 this Labour Weekend to allow plenty of time for their trip.
“We’re still working hard along the coast to make the road safer and more resilient for the future and many parts, including Ōhau Point, are still a construction zone. It’s important that road users stick to the posted speed limit and obey all signage in the area.”
For more information about safe travel between Picton and Christchurch along SH1 visit: www.nzta.govt.nz/p2c