Last week’s torrential rain has severely damaged parts of the Heaphy Track, with the Department of Conservation today announcing the track’s temporary closure.
DOC 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 said.
“The area between the Mackay and Heaphy huts is the worst affected. Three bridges have been extensively damaged or washed away.”
She said the 147.3-metre-long Heaphy suspension bridge – built in 2013 – over the Heaphy River appears to have been damaged beyond repair.
The 70-metre-long Gunner River suspension bridge built in 2011 is also badly damaged, while the 6-metre-long Pitt Creek timber bridge, built just last year, has been washed away.
Ms Van Smit says more detailed assessment and repairs cannot be carried out until the next heavy rainfall is over. The MetService has an Orange rain warning in place for Buller which began at 1pm today and ends 10am tomorrow, she said.
“Rangers were at the Gunner Bridge today securing what they could before the heavy rain set in again and potentially does more damage.”
“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.”
Meanwhile, the Paparoa Track Great Walk reopened this morning. Apart from a slip on the Pororari River section the Great Walk came through the weather relatively unscathed, Ms Van Smit said.
Walkers can enter/exit the Punakaiki end of the Paparoa Track via Waikori Road until the Pororari River Track reopens.