Porika 4WD and stock track – what next?
The Porika 4WD road traverses between the Howard Valley and Lake Rotoroa in the Nelson Lakes area.
Unfortunately this road suffered a major washout due to the deluge of heavy rains we had on December 28 last year, followed by more heavy rains again a few weeks later. The washout is well above the zigzag section going down to Lake Rotoroa. At about NZGD2000 NZTM E1568153 N5374308 or Lat and Long E172 37.006’ S41 46.946 at about 860 metres.
After a bit of investigative work by me which involved the Department of Conservation, Tasman District Council and the Trans Power contractor the following has been established (for better or worse):
The road was built, presumably by the Ministry of Works, for the construction of the Westport pylon National Grid line.
The road is on road reserve.
Although it was previously a stock route, this indicates to me that the road reserve status may have been given to it after the road was constructed. I assume this due to it no doubt being a difficult track to construct – in other words, make the road, survey it later.
The road is not maintained in any way by the Tasman District Council.
Being on road reserve, although it passes through DoC managed estates the department has no interest or need to maintain it.
The Transpower contractor is responsible for any maintenance that “it” deems necessary to protect the integrity of the national grid over that section.
The Transpower contractor can service the pylons from either end of the road and do not necessarily “need” to travel the length of the road.
The loss of this hugely popular 4WD track is a huge blow, the washout being about 12 metres wide, about 50 metres deep and the inside edge is against a solid rock face angled almost vertically downwards and about 50 degrees above the track.
Without major works, and it will be major, there is no way around the washout.
A few years ago the repairs would probably not have been such an issue - drill a few holes, plug it with gelignite and blow the side out of the hill to create a new track. Unfortunately these days things are not quite so simple and I suspect that we will only see this road open again if money from elsewhere can be found to help with the cost.
The pictures show the amount of debris that was washed down from the hill above and give an indication of the huge amount of water that must have been flowing.
I don’t know what the solution is and I am unsure as to how successful any lobbying for repairs would be with this track.