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Catchpool road re-opens

Catchpool road re-opens

The road to the flood-ravaged Catchpool Valley has reopened and a track, with some detours, has been marked out for access to the Orongorongo Valley.

But with a massive clean-up operation underway, to clear slips and reinstate bridges and facilities damaged or destroyed in torrential rain last month, the Department of Conservation is advising people to exercise extreme caution if venturing into this area in the Rimutaka Forest Park.

Access to and along the marked track to the Orongorongo Valley now involves a number of creek crossings and steep ascents and descents more suited to people familiar with rough terrain, DOC Poneke area manager Peter Simpson said. Remaining tracks in the Catchpool and Orongorongo Valleys have yet to be assessed for damage.

The course of the Orongorongo River has changed.

“Its new course will be unfamiliar to users and a number of deep pools and swift flowing channels may have developed,” Mr Simpson said.

The main Orongorongo Valley has been dammed by a spill out of gravel from Boulder Stream. While the build-up of water behind it does not pose a major threat, it could be released if further flooding occurs in the near future.

“People should be aware that there could be a minor surge of water down the valley if we get further significant rain. At present the river is flowing normally around the dam and will slowly breach it over time.” Mr Simpson said.

It could take up to two years to fully reinstate structures washed out during the worst flooding in at least 30 years. The clean-up operation is estimated to cost around $500,000.

DOC staff and volunteers have been busy over the past fortnight cleaning up the picnic areas, and restoring water supplies to four booked huts in the Orongorongo Valley and to toilets in the valley.

The camp ground, covered by debris, remains closed. Work is underway to repair damaged bridges and design replacement bridges, and clear slips from the main tracks. ENDS

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