Auckland Council has announced it will lift the cordon restricting access into Piha at midday on Friday 5 May.
Access was restricted to non-residents of the area following extreme weather events earlier this year.
Council Deputy Group Recovery Manager, Mace Ward says all necessary safety and roading assessments and community consultation had been completed, and there was no longer a need for a cordon to remain.
“The Piha cordon was put in place immediately following Cyclone Gabrielle to minimise the risk to public safety, maintain the integrity of Piha Road and reduce community distress while the immediate aftermath of the extreme weather was assessed,” said Mr Ward.
“Work has since been undertaken by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to assess the ongoing risk to the community and wider public in relation to land and road stability, and we are now confident that the cordon can be removed without any risk to public safety.”
Piha Road, the main road into Piha, suffered extensive damage during the cyclone and is down to one lane in a section near the main lookout. To manage this, temporary traffic lights are in place for the short one-lane stretch. Scenic Drive will also continue to be down to one lane in a section near Elevation Brasserie.
Auckland Transport Chief Engineer, Murray Burt says recent geotechnical assessments show the road can safely cope with increased traffic when the cordon lifts.
“It’s been a really tough couple of months for Piha residents and I want to assure the community that we are doing everything possible to get things back to normal as soon as possible,” Mr Burt says.
“Our teams have been working closely with our road maintenance contractors to ensure Piha Road is safe for both locals and visitors.
“We have temporary traffic lights in place for the short one-lane stretch near the lookout to ensure safe traffic flow.
“We’re asking for everyone’s patience when they’re travelling to and from Piha because journey times will be longer than what people were used to before Cyclone Gabrielle.
“We are currently working on plans for permanent repairs to Piha Road and we will update the Piha community once we have completed our technical assessments and initial design work.”
Several homes were damaged during the cyclone and several local roads within the Piha area were damaged and remain closed.
“An inner cordon will remain on Rayner Road and Marine Parade to prevent access to the most affected areas. While the removal of the main cordon on Piha Road is a great milestone to reach, there is still a lot of work ahead to support the community through recovery,” says Mr Ward.
“Unfortunately, most of our walking tracks around Piha, including the popular Tasman Lookout / Tasman View, Lion Rock, Liard Thomson and Kitekite Falls tracks, and Marawhara Walk, sustained significant damage and remain closed.
“We ask that the public respect the barriers and fencing on any closed tracks, as they are there for your safety and the safety of others while we continue to assess, plan and prioritise the recovery works.”
View the status of walking tracks via this map.
Mr Ward said the decision to remove the cordon considered public safety, the resilience of the main road into Piha, mitigation measures, active environmental monitoring, sustainability of local services and the wellbeing and security concerns of affected property owners.
“The council has reviewed general security arrangements for Piha in conjunction with the Police and there will continue to be a security presence in the area. Residents and homeowners are reminded to make properties secure and for the community to call the Police in the first instance to report suspicious behaviour,” he said.
“We know that many Aucklanders have been frustrated at being excluded from Piha and we are very pleased to be removing the cordon so Piha can once again welcome visitors, friends and whānau.
“I’d also like to acknowledge that this has been a very challenging time for local business owners that provide services to recreational visitors.”
Cordons remain in place at Muriwai and Karekare and access is limited to residents and emergency personnel only.
The Council says both communities had suffered extensive landslips and road damage which continued to present a risk to public safety. In addition, there is no water supply to Muriwai Regional Park due to the damage sustained at the water treatment plant.
“Work is underway by Watercare to assess alternative options to restore water to the park. Auckland Council continues to assess the situation and will provide updates in due course,” Council said in a statement.