Sunday, February 13, 2022

Buller evacuations, flooding, slips, road closures, power outages

Karamea Highway Buller. Photo Buller Emergency Management

Everything and every one in Buller and the district have taken a battering with the tremendous amount of rain over recent days. 

Deputy Mayor Sharon Roche says “it’s been a wild ride for the community – evacuations, flooding, slips, road closures, dump exposures, power outages and more.” 

“The resiliency of the community, contractors and emergency management teams has been put to the test, but she's incredibly proud of how everyone has handled these trying times” 

Buller Emergency Management

“Over the coming weeks, it’s going to be important for the community to understand that clean-up and remediation work will take time.”

Buller has had two floods in a week to cope with and the Karamea State Highway is closed at the moment with slips.

Buller Emergency Management released a statement this afternoon that the “Buller District Council will implement from tomorrow (Monday 14 February 2022) a traffic control plan for the Karamea Highway that will allow escorted traffic to access and leave Karamea three times a day.”

Karamea Highway Buller. Photo Buller Emergency Management

Manager infrastructure delivery Eric de Boer says: “Traffic over the Karamea Bluff will initially be allowed in convoys at set times, using the “follow me” system. This is to control access through some one-lane sections of the hill on each side, to ensure peoples safety, and allow repair work to be carried out.”

 “Vehicles will be escorted over the Karamea Bluff at 9am, 1pm, and 5pm from tomorrow onwards. People who want to leave or access Karamea need to queue at the closure sites on both ends at these


There are many single lane areas that traffic has to pass through and this opportunity is only be open to traffic that is present at the closure sites at the set times.

Buller Floods. Photo Buller Emergency Management

The Community need to arrange their journey plans to coincide with the scheduled opening times and allow for potential delays during the 25km escort.

To inform the public signage has been installed on State Highway 67 near the Pines Tavern as well as Mokihinui Lewis Street corner and the Little Wanganui bridge.

“Looking at the extensive damage, the Karamea Highway will not be fully repaired for some time. The highway will remain closed to free-flowing traffic for at least the next seven days to carry out repairs.”

Karamea Highway Buller. Photo Buller Emergency Management

The scheduled opening hours will enable residents and supplies to access and leave Karamea during this time,” Eric says.

An extensive rebuild programme is currently being planned based on geotechnical advice gathered over the past few days.

The section of the Karamea highway over the Karamea Bluff was severely damaged by slips triggered by heavy rain during the latest two weather events, which struck the Buller District over the past days.

Road access to and from Karamea has been cut off since Wednesday 9 February 2022.

The Buller River in flood. Photo Buller Emergency Management

WestReef staff and their contractors are currently working on removing about 30 large slips and they have widened several areas to allow escorted vehicles to safely pass through this most severely affected section of the highway.

“Apart from the many slips, at some locations the hill beneath parts of the highway dropped 30 – 40 metres and work to repair these areas is not expected to start until appropriate ground stabilization
equipment can be bought in to access these areas,” Eric says.

“The highway is safe to open to controlled traffic but a lot of work needs to be done to get this section of road back to where it was.”

The following roads are closed or have a warning as of 5pm Sunday 13 February.

Road Closure: SH 67 Mokihinui to Karamea

Updated 20 hours ago

View traffic update details

Road Closure: SH 67 Hector to Mokihinui

Updated 96 mins ago

Road Closure: SH 67 Mokihinui, from Lewis Road to Mokihinui- Seddonville Road
Updated 14 hours ago

NZ Transport Agency View traffic update details

Buller slip. Photo Buller Emergency Management

The Buller Emergency Management advised that the Karamea Highway will remain closed until 9am Monday 14 February.

Helicopters are being used to support St John Ambulance and the District Health Board to transport residents requiring medical attention to hospital. 

Helicopters moving tourists out of the area are returning with essential supplies to ensure the town does not run out.

Two slips in the July 2021 flooding that were under repair have not suffered further erosion. 

Work is expected to continue for several months, and drivers should be prepared for delays.

Pigeon Post News

Keep the community informed 

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