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First convoys bypass the SH1 washout north of Kaitaia

The NZ Transport Agency says 25 vehicles were escorted by police along a private forestry track this morning to bypass the washout that’s closed State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia.

There were 22 vehicles travelling south and 3 made the northbound journey, says the Transport Agency’s Northland System Manager, Jacqui Hori-Hoult.

The convoys are for essential travel only and will be repeated tonight at 5:30pm for southbound traffic and at 6:15pm for northbound traffic. Police will check the vehicles and drivers for suitability to make the 40 minute journey over the unsealed one lane track. The convoys will run at the same time tomorrow.

The route through the privately-owned forest is closed at all other times to vehicles except emergency services. Normal forestry operations have resumed in the area and motorists will be travelling at their own risk through the off road route.

If you don’t have to travel, please delay your journey until the state highway is open, says Ms Hori-Hoult.

Repair crews have made good progress over the weekend on laying a new culvert with 2.1 metre diameter pipes across the road. Seven trucks are delivering about 5,000 cubic metres of material needed to backfill the hole to road level.

The road is expected to reopen mid week.

The Transport Agency is working with local authorities, emergency services and the Ministry of Civil Defence to ensure the welfare of local communities and visitors.

Civil Defence says it’s had no requests for assistance. Emergency services also report no issues.

Schools remain open, though pupils who can’t get past the washout have been told to stay at home.

This morning, two trucks delivered 50 crates of fresh bread and milk and they were carried across the washout to store owners from the north waiting on the other side.

Tomorrow morning there will be a convoy leaving at 7:30am for southbound traffic from the corner of Far North Road and Trig Road and an 8:15am departure for northbound vehicles from 113 Hukatere Road at the end of the sealed section.

The Transport Agency thanks the local community and visitors for their patience and understanding while it works as quickly as possible to restore a safe and resilient transport system in Northland.

While SH1 is closed there is no alternative route between Kaitaia and Cape Reinga, apart from the forest track.

The road to the top of the North Island has been closed since a washout on Fridayafternoon created a hole in the road 20 metres long and 4-5 meters deep near Pukenui, about 40 kilometres north of Kaitaia.

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