Plans are in place for remedial works at Cathedral Cove that will enable the iconic archway to be reopened to the public, says the Department of Conservation’s Hauraki Area manager, Melissa King-Howell.
The Cathedral Cove arch has been closed since April 2010 when a large section of rock fell from the roof, prompting DOC to erect a rope barrier and signs warning visitors to stay out of the arch area. “Two new and significant rock falls that occurred in February and May this year made us revisit our future management options. We engaged geotechnical specialists to provide a report on the risk of further rock falls and potential options to manage the problem,” said Ms King-Howell.
The report highlighted a number of potentially unstable areas and recommended remedial works that could be implemented to reduce the rock fall risk threat to an acceptable level when compared with international standards for civil structures.
The remedial work recommended in the report is a process known as scaling, which involves manually picking and breaking off identified weak areas of rock which could pose a potential risk. This recommendation has recently been accepted and the work will be done using a number of methods including abseiling and possibly erecting scaffolding to reach the identified areas.
“We expect that this work will enable us to reopen the arch, however more rock falls within the arch are possible, so, though we plan for the barrier ropes to be removed, signage will remain in place warning people of the hazards once work has been completed,” commented Ms King-Howell.
Skilled contractors will undertake this work, supervised by independent geotechnical experts. The work will be done in several phases and the initial work planned should take two or three days.
“Given the nature of the work, and the risk to both public and contractor safety we are still considering our responsibilities and options regarding public access to the reserve during this period. This may mean that we will need to restrict or close access to the Cove area for this short period,” said Ms King-Howell, “The first phase of this work is scheduled to occur early next week.”
Cathedral Cove is an iconic site on the Coromandel Peninsula visited by thousands of people each year. Gemstone and Stingray Bays offer safe swimming beaches with pohutukawa fringed round rock beach and spectacular white cliffs and turquoise water respectively. A great view and information can be obtained from the visitors lookout at the beginning of the track.
Watch the video: Abseiling work to reduce rock fall at Cathedral Cove