Diesel Hauled Sightseers Gorge Excursion 2004

Back to 2002-2004 Trip photos

On Sunday 21st March, 4th April, 2nd May in 2004 we ran three excursions to see the flood damage in the Manawatu Gorge.

Helicopter Dumping Water on Small Slip Two HeliPro helicopters were working when we visited. They are using buckets to wash the loose soil and rock from the slip face. The road appears to be damaged, as the broken concrete can be seen under the road.
Big Slip Still Blocking Road The next slip along the gorge still is blocking the road.
Large photo available.
Diggers Clearing Slip A close up view of the digger working.
Helicopter Filling Bucket A view of the train and of a helicopter filling its bucket in the river.
Helicopter Ex miltary Helipro helicopter filling its bucket. We stopped the train in the gorge and watched the two helicopters work. It was quite a sight to see.
Largest Slip Nearly Cleared When we came through the gorge again on 4th April 2004 another slip had occurried. This slip was cleared out within the day.
Large photo available.
Train at Woodville The train waiting at Woodville. Tea, coffee, biscuits, cold drinks, hot sausages, and souvenirs were available for sale on the platform.

Photos taken by Michael Prior.

Manawatu Evening Standard

Truckies hurt by Gorge closure
08 March 2004

The Manawatu Gorge closure is costing truck companies hundreds of dollars a day and that cost is likely to continue.

Latest estimates say the road could be closed for months and companies will continue paying more for fuel, wages and road-user charges because of the extra distance involved in using the Pahiatua Track.

Bruce Hill Transport managing director David Hill said the closure is costing his company about $1250 a day.
"It does have a big impact on our business, especially when we are coming from the west out of Taranaki and Wanganui. (We go) over the Ashhurst Bridge and down Aokautere Road. Then we end up going over the track to Pahiatua, and up to Woodville. It's quite a deviation."

The Gorge has been closed since February 16.
Transit regional manager Errol Christiansen said the worst case scenario could see the Gorge closed for months, but it will be the end of this week before that is known for certain.
He said it is looking more likely that about 50 metres of the road has disappeared beneath a slip, and if that were the case, bridges would have to be built to carry the road.

Contractors had been hoping to have the slip cleared down to road level by today, but more dirt and rock fell at the weekend.
Other slip repairs are going well, but there is a 70m crack in a rock face that will have to be dealt with.

It takes at least another 30 minutes to climb the Pahiatua Track, and Bruce Hill Transport, which carts animal byproducts, has trucks making 25 return journeys each day.
Truck drivers are allowed to drive for 11 hours, and in some cases relief drivers have to be brought in to make sure the drivers don't go over that.
The climb up the track is also sucking up more diesel.
Passing the cost on to clients isn't easy, because much of its work is contracted, Mr Hill said. However, the company has been able negotiate some increases.
"We want the Gorge opened as soon as possible. That's the short and simple answer. We want a secure and stable road to get from east to west."

Hooker Pacific general manager Andy Stanley said the closure is an inconvenience, but is a fact of life and there isn't a lot that can be done about it.
The road closures in the region, including Wanganui, are costing the company as much as $1000 a day.
He isn't sure if the cost would be passed on.
"We're playing it day by day at this stage, hoping that everything will reopen."
He said it would be great if the Government provided a road-user subsidy. But he didn't think that was an option, because of the question of where to draw the line.
Other roads across the country also closed every so often, including Arthurs Pass in the South Island. A new road through the ranges here would be great, but probably is not financially possible, he said.

Linfox Logistics (NZ Ltd) operations manager Bruce Keane said the company is paying an extra $250 a day because of the Gorge closure, but the floods have cost him $15,000 in other costs as well. Drivers had been trapped and motels had had to be paid for, along with wages.
He said the Pahiatua Track had some tight corners and he is surprised there haven't been more accidents.
He is also surprised at how well the track is holding out, with the increase in traffic.

Back to 2002-2004 Trip photos