Gisborne locals frustrated as Waioeka Gorge slip blocks SH2

Some East Coast locals and businesses in New Zealand are angry another rock slip has closed one of the region's main trucking routes. 

It could take until next week to clear the latest slip in the Waioeka Gorge, which has closed State Highway 2 between Opotiki and Gisborne. 

The Waioeka Gorge is notorious for its big slips that block the highway and cost millions - this 7000 cubic metre rock fall just the latest. It has cut-off one of the region's main arteries. 

"That's our access north... without that, Gisborne has a real problem and we have to think about the next 20 years," food manufacturer LeaderBrand Produce's Richard Burke told Newshub. 

Mobile phone vision of the slip shows just how fast, violent and dangerous the rock falls can be. 

"They've had heavy rain up there and once it's saturated, with NZ geology things can then move," said New Zealand Transport Agency's (NZTA's) Mark Owen. 

The latest slip is similar to one that closed the road last year and took nine days to reopen. 

"We need some leadership, we need some people to stand up and look at this as a wider issue... not just a one-off slip," said Mr Burke. 

LeaderBrand Produce trucks fresh produce north five times a day. It's one of many companies losing thousands of dollars a day because of the highway closure.  

It normally takes about two hours to drive from Gisborne to Opotiki - but when it's closed, the detour takes more than five hours.
It normally takes about two hours to drive from Gisborne to Opotiki - but when it's closed, the detour takes more than five hours. Photo credit: Newshub

It normally takes about two hours to drive from Gisborne to Opotiki - but when it's closed, the detour takes more than five hours. 

There have been three closures because of slips in the past eight years. The worst was in 2012, when the road closed for a month and was down to one lane for 10 months. 

There are fears there will be a repeat of what happened to the Manawatu Gorge. A $500 million new road will be built after slips kept closing State Highway 3. 

Mr Owen says Waioeka Gorge isn't as big as the Manawatu Gorge, and that NZTA is "confident that we're attacking it as hard and as fast as we can".

But as the slip continues to move, NZTA can't yet say when the road will reopen. 

Newshub. 

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