Gunner bridge on the Heaphy track damaged by storm
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Last week’s torrential rain has severely damaged parts of the Heaphy Track and it is closed until Sunday 13 February.

Date:  09 February 2022

Department of Conservation Buller Operations Manager Suvi Van Smit says rangers flew by helicopter over the track yesterday to start assessing the damage.

“We will provide an update before Sunday about when it might be possible to reopen the Track,” she says.

“The area between the Mackay and Heaphy huts is the worst affected.  Three bridges have been extensively damaged or washed away.”

The 147.3-metre long Heaphy suspension bridge over the Heaphy River appears to have been damaged beyond repair. The bridge was built in 2013.

The 70-metre-long Gunner River suspension bridge built in 2011 is damaged. The river has been over the bridge deck. Damage observed includes snapped sway cables.

The 6-metre-long Pitt Creek timber bridge, built last year, has been washed away.

Suvi Van Smit says more detailed assessment and repairs cannot be carried out until the next heavy rainfall is over.  MetService has an Orange rain warning in place for Buller which began at 1pm today (9 February) and ends 10am tomorrow.

“Rangers were at the Gunner Bridge today securing what they could before the heavy rain sets in again and potentially does more damage,” she says.

“Huts have come through unscathed but the water supply at Heaphy Hut has been damaged. There is also a slip on the coastal section between Kohaihai and the Heaphy Hut.”

The Paparoa Track Great Walk reopened this morning (9 February). Apart from a slip on the Pororari River section the Great Walk came through the weather relatively unscathed.

Walkers can enter/exit the Punakaiki end of the Paparoa Track via Waikori Road until the Pororari River Track reopens.


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