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Tinakori Hill helicopter work to start next week

Tinakori Hill helicopter work to start next week

Access to Tinakori Hill will be restricted at times from next week when the largest heavy lift helicopter in the country begins lifting logs from the steep slopes above Grant Road.

For safety reasons, all tracks will be closed and public access to the hillside prohibited on days when the helicopter is operating.

The Boeing Vertol 107-II, owned and operated by Columbia Helicopters New Zealand Limited, has two rotors on top rather the more usual single rotor and tail blade. It can carry up to 4.5 tonnes using two sophisticated computer-assisted lift systems and will be flown by two pilots at all times.

A Wellington City Council spokesman, Project Manager Stuart Baines, says the helicopter is ideal for use in urban areas where safety is paramount and its design means it is relatively quiet.

“Obviously people will hear it, but we have worked hard to make sure we have the best aircraft for the job.”

More than 1200 hazardous trees, mostly pines, are being removed above Grant Road to help protect the road and properties below. The helicopter will lift logs up to the ridge top where they can be trucked out through Northland, Wilton and Ngaio Gorge to the waterfront. Suitable logs are being sold for export to help cover costs.

The helicopter is expected to operate for up to 14 days during April and May when weather permits. All going well, work will start on Monday 18 April. Generally the work will be carried out Mondays to Saturdays, between 7am and 5.30pm, but occasional Sunday operations are possible.

Mr Baines says there will be signs up at major track entrances when the area is closed and on those days it is very important that everyone stays off the hillside altogether.

“It’s dangerous and a breach of civil aviation and health and safety regulations to be there. The pilots need to know that there is nobody wandering about below.”

People will be able to continue to use most major tracks at other times but need to heed any track-closed signs and avoid marked logging areas.

“We are trying to keep as much of the hillside open whenever possible,” Mr Baines says.

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