The public will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk along part of State Highway 3 and see the Manawatu Gorge slip site up close, with a charity open day being held this Sunday (20 May) in support of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.
NZTA state highways manager David McGonigal says the NZTA, with the Manawatu Events Equipment Trust in support of the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter, are inviting the public to the first official 'up close and personal' look at the site where the largest known slip to ever block a New Zealand highway came down last year.
The Open Day is being held in support of the Rescue Helicopter, and will be held on the Ashhurst side of the gorge between 10am and 3pm.
"After nine months of frustrations we think the community deserves to get a closer look at the slip site before we partially reopen the road before the end of the month.
"We hope people will take the opportunity to take a day out with family and friends - it might be the last chance they ever get to walk along the highway through the gorge, and the gargantuan chunk the slip has taken out of the hillside is extraordinary to see up close in person."
Mr McGonigal says volunteers for the Rescue Helicopter will be onsite to collect gold coin donations, and stalls selling food and other goodies will be in place at the Department of Conservation Carpark.
Phil Pirie from the Manawatu Events Equipment Trust says that Ann, his wife, came up with the fundraising idea for the Rescue Helicopter, which will be on site for viewing, as it is an easy way for the public to support such a vital service.
Mr McGonigal says construction work and onsite safety issues will mean the public will not be able to walk on the area directly in front of the slip, but they can view the slip from a stone's throw away to appreciate its sheer scale.
Free charter buses will be available on the day from Palmerston North, Ashhurst and Woodville. Further details will be made public later this week, and will be advertised in the Manawatu Standard and on Radio Network stations. Information about the slip and Sunday's Open Day can also be found at www.nzta.govt.nz
Mr McGonigal says the NZTA is grateful to the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter and Manawatu Events Equipment Trust for getting behind the Open Day and helping to raise money for a worthy cause while giving the public this unique opportunity to see the gorge up close.