Quake Recovery Troubles Persist as Marlborough Land Slip Remains 'Unstable'

Storyful Published January 13, 2017

Rumble New Zealand’s Marlborough District Council has released footage of efforts underway to clear through a massive land slip on Awatere Valley Road caused by the deadly November 14 Kaikoura earthquake.

This video, uploaded on December 16, shows a digger driver, chopper pilot and rope access supervisor discuss the continued challenges they face on the “unstable” slope. The 100-kilometre road has been impassable since the quake, shutting down its route from coastal Marlborough to Molesworth, New Zealand’s largest high-country station, and on to Hanmer Springs, according to the Marlborough District Council.

Marlborough Roads’ Steve Murrin <a href="https://www.facebook.com/MarlDistCouncil/posts/1303713299688303" target="_blank">elaborated on the problems</a> workers face, which he said is because the slip is so unstable it’s a very dangerous site to work on.

“For the first three weeks we have been removing unstable rocks by either ‘sluicing’ them with monsoon buckets from helicopters, or blasting them with dynamite using abseilers.”

“Finally last Friday we got the site stable enough to start excavating with a remote-controlled digger. By Sunday evening we were able to get three quarters of the way across the slip.

“However we had to pull back after loose material began falling from above. We called in helicopters to sluice again, which uncovered four huge boulders that were in a very dangerous position. We managed to dislodge two of these, but the other two are proving very difficult to move. They each weigh in excess of 15 tonnes.

“These are the kind of challenges we are working with on this slip," said Murrin.