Close watch after rockfall

John Jarvis.
John Jarvis.
The NZ Transport Agency will keep a close eye on an area from which two  large boulders fell on Wednesday afternoon.

The event closed Chard Rd, in Gibbston, until yesterday morning.

The boulders fell from about 135m,  most of the debris landing on Chard Rd.  Some  of it made it on to State Highway 6 and to AJ Hackett Bungy’s car park, causing "minor" damage to some vehicles.

Yesterday, NZTA Otago senior network manager John Jarvis said a geotech engineer completed an aerial inspection of the area late Wednesday afternoon and the agency yesterday forwarded a brief report, including some recommendations, to the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Provided the council agreed, there would probably be a combined project "in a week or so" to remove any further risk.

That would probably involve some rock scaling, Mr Jarvis said.

"We don’t believe there’s any big, immediate threat there at the moment, but it would be prudent to remove some of the loose rock that is up there in that area ...  get some abseilers up there, probably [for] a two or three-day operation.

"There are parts of the face where they’ve come away from where it’s not that flash, but it’s not as though they’re just hanging there by the skin of their teeth," Mr Jarvis said.

"We need to talk to the council about whether they agree and we’ll probably do a bit of a combined project ..."

While  there were large areas of schist throughout the region — which were regularly inspected and subject to safety work — in 22 years he had not seen a rockfall in that location, Mr Jarvis said.

"So we’ll keep a closer eye on this one, at least in the short term ...  We’ll have someone have a bit of a check of it every few days in the next week or so before we do anything up there.

"I think the council are going to organise to at least get some rock warning signs on Chard Rd in particular."

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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