Safe scenic spot for Roaring Meg

The Department of Conservation's $56,000 upgrade of recreational and tourist facilities at the...
The Department of Conservation's $56,000 upgrade of recreational and tourist facilities at the Roaring Meg hydro station in the Kawarau Gorge is enjoyed by visitors to the area. Photo by Rosie Manins.
Those visiting a viewing area above the Roaring Meg hydro station in the Kawarau Gorge are now able to take in the scenery more safely, after a $56,000 development of the area has been completed.

Public safety was at the forefront of a Department of Conservation decision to establish a viewing platform and railing in the area, which has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years.

Doc Wakatipu area contracts manager Richard Struthers said tourists had in past viewed the power station and the fast-flowing Kawarau River from open rock platforms, and as the area became more popular it was deemed important to improve its safety.

"It was completely undeveloped, with just a rough track down to a rocky point. People went down there anyway, but you wouldn't have taken your grandmother or two-year-old. Now, everyone can enjoy it," he said.

Doc first identified a need for the area to be developed about two years ago.

Funding was sought from the Otago Conservancy and an overhaul of the area was undertaken in collaboration with the New Zealand Transport Agency, which paid for improved vehicle access off State Highway 6 and a revamped car park.

Mr Struthers said Doc had to commission structural engineers and geotechnical advice during the planning stages of the project.

"The rocky nob has been assessed as sound, but there's still six 5m steel rods drilled and pinned down through the rock, capped off with quite a few cubic metres of concrete to ensure that it all stays in one piece," he said.

information panels were installed beside the viewing platform, detailing the area's history and archaeological significance.

Mr Struthers said the Kirtleburn Reserve, opposite the power station, was a registered archaeological site, and about 200m from the Roaring Meg there was a natural rock bridge which was used by early Maori.

The area was also popular today with tourist companies - in particular river rafting and boarding - which made for good viewing as well, he said.

rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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