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Kererū Gorge Culvert

Kereru Gorge banner

Photo taken 5/2/2024


Flood damage from Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023 resulted in the loss of approximately 50 metres of Kererū Road, the loss of the culvert drainage and erosion of the stream to around 8m below its previous level. This means the gully is now 18 metres deep. 

The steep slopes and extensive damage make this a complex project with vehicle access difficult. Due to its complexity, the time and cost to implement an interim solution would be similar to that required for a permanent solution. 

Kereu gorge before Medium

Kererū Gorge as it appeared in September 2021

The culvert which previously provided drainage needs to be replaced with a much larger permanent structure. Following this, the road will be rebuilt on top.

Kererū Gorge is one of eighteen bridges or culverts that were destroyed in the cyclone. The scale and complexity of the damage across the district is huge. A prioritised recovery programme to replace these structures and repair the roading network will be delivered over the next seven to ten years.

The impact of Kererū Gorge Road being closed since Cyclone Gabrielle has been significant for the community. They have lost their most direct access route into Hastings and the wider district (forced to take a lengthy detour down Salisbury Road) and are disconnected from neighbours and schools. Unlike ten of the other sites, no short-term solution to restore pre-cyclone access has been possible. Because of this, the permanent repair of the Kererū Gorge road and culvert will be one of the first permanent projects to get underway. Construction is planned to begin in March 2024.

To date, extensive clearing of silt and flood debris has been done, along with topographical surveys and geotechical investigations. Following the completion of a feasibility study, it is recommended that a 15-metre-wide segmented culvert is the best option moving forward, in terms of cost-effectiveness and timeliness, to future-proof against flooding.

The next steps are the preparation of the site for heavy vehicle work and detailed design for construction. This will happen simultaneously as emergency works.

Scheduling dates for work may change as a project proceeds. For example, detailed investigations may show that a project is more or less complex than initial inspections revealed, and the updated information may see a project brought forward or delayed.

Key points

  • Site complexity:  The steepness and narrowness of the site make access very difficult, and limit the number of options availableThe ground conditions are extremely poor making the design solution a challenge. 

  • Project timeline: The goal is to prepare the site access in February 2024 for construction of a permanent replacement structure to begin in March 2024. Construction is expected to take six-nine months from commencement of works. However, delays may occur due to shipping delays, weather events or other unforeseen occurrences. 

Works completed to date

Extensive site clearance of silt and debris. A feasibility study has been completed to assess the engineering challenges linked to each drainage solution that would protect the repaired road.  The feasibility report is based on the following:

  • Geometrics
  • Hydrology and climate effects
  • Geotechnical/geology considerations
  • Environmental considerations
  • Constructability
  • Cost
  • Social impacts
  • Other factors

The recommendation of the feasibility report is for a 15-metre wide multiplate culvert. This will future proof the structure for flooding, and is also the most cost-effective option. 


Feasibility study Completed December 2023
Site preparation for construction From 19 February 2024
Detailed design February 2024
Mana whenua engagement, community engagement February 2024
Blessing ahead of works beginning TBC
Works begin Mid-March 2024
Works complete  December 2024 (weather dependent)

Community meetings

Date Location Status Presentations
Monday 26 February, 6:00pm-7:30pm Kererū Town Hall COMPLETE Stantec Presentation

Details of further meetings will be added here, as and when confirmed.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as at 7 March 2024

The following are answers to questions received via email and at the community meeting regarding on 26 February.  For conciseness, questions similar in nature have have been grouped together.

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The anticipated timeframe as at early March 2024 is:

Enabling works (Feb-March)

Construction (March-December), which will include:

  • Ground improvements
  • Pile and pile cap installation
  • Foundation installation
  • Arch construction
  • Fill over the arch and headwall construction
  • Pavement construction and barrier installation
  • Signage, road marking
  • Final touches

This timeframe will be further refined once the contractor is engaged and will be dependent on the impact of weather events or other unforeseen circumstances.

Regular updates will be provided to the community via newsletter and Facebook.

Prior to the cyclone the culvert carrying the Whanaukini Stream under Kereru Road was a 1.5m diameter pipe culvert. Cyclone Gabrielle caused catastrophic damage. 50m of road embankment were lost and water eroded the level of the stream in the gully by 8m, so there is now a gully approximately 18m deep.

The time and expense of constructing any interim solution at this site would be similar to that required for a permanent solution, and so a temporary solution was ruled out. Work has been carrying on with urgency to investigate solutions, secure funding and work to get construction underway as soon as possible. While we understand some use of private land has happened as a bypass route, Council is not able to formalise this as a road suitable for public use.

In total, the full programme of recovery work will be phased over 7-10 years at a cost of $800 million. Kereru Gorge is one of the first projects programmed and construction is intended to begin in March 2024.

Investigation into an interim solution found that the time and expense would be similar to a permanent solution, and so a temporary solution was ruled out.  An alignment across private land was considered as one of five options.

Work has been carrying on with urgency to investigate solutions, secure funding and work to get construction underway as soon as possible.  We understand the impact on community, and so construction of a permanent solution here is in the first tranche of construction for cyclone recovery.  In total, the full programme of recovery work will be phased over 7-10 years at a cost of $800 million.  Kereru Gorge is one of the first projects programmed and construction is intended to begin in March 2024. 

Any alternative alignment route would need to go through a full feasibility study with Waka Kotahi which could result in the new alignment being deemed uneconomic. There is no  guarantee that Waka Kotahi would fund this. It is possible that reopening Kereru Road at all could be deemed uneconomic. Additionally, even if approved and subsidised, such a project would have a longer timeline than the proposed solution.

While we understand some use of private land has happened as a bypass route, Council is not able to formalise this as a road suitable for public use.

The centreline radius of the bend will be approximately the same as the existing, but the overall road width will increase from ~6.0m width to 11.0m (2 x 4m lanes + 2 x 1.5m shoulders). The horizontal and vertical curvature and superelevation has been designed to meet current best practice for a road of this type.  

The use of helicopters was considered early-on in the design process, but during Stantec’s research into this, the lifting capacity of the largest helicopter readily available in New Zealand (the Sikorsky UH60 Black Hawk helicopter, with a total external load lifting capacity of 3.6 tonnes and owned by Kahu NZ) was deemed insufficient. To the best of Stantec’s knowledge a sky crane suitable for this project is not readily available in NZ.

Council has engaged Fulton Hogan as our contractor for the enabling works. On 28 March, Fulton Hogan were also engaged for the first portion of the Kererū Gorge rebuild. 

The destroyed culvert had a 1.5m diameter and a cross-sectional area of 1.8m2. The proposed culvert has a single span of 15.5m, a rise of 9m and a cross-sectional waterway area of 113m2. This sizing far exceeds the ‘100-year + climate change’ flows required by the New Zealand Bridge Manual. In fact, the sizing of the culvert is such that it even exceeds the ‘1000-year + climate change’ flood flows by a factor of two. Due to the considerable oversizing of the culvert the probability of the culvert blocking due to flood debris accumulation is considered very low.

From a maintenance perspective, the new structure, due to its increased waterway area, will be re-categorised as a bridge or major culvert and will require structural inspections every two years by Council.

Approx location and size of culvert

The design team has estimated 10 days risk component within the construction section of programme.  Once a contractor is on board the construction programme will be better detailed. 

The culvert is expected to be received the end of June/early July. Payment has already been made and manufacturing will follow. The culvert itself cannot be manufactured in New Zealand and has to come from overseas (Australia).

Two bridge options were discussed at the meeting on 26 February:

A. Option 3: Approx. 50m long 3-span bridge at the current site, estimated cost $7.9m and mitigating factors included:

  • Large crane not viable at this site
  • Tight horizontal radius and sag curve problematic for bridge design
  • Extensive slope stabilisation required
  • 6% superelevation

B. Other permanent option considered - A longer multi-span bridge (Estimated $30m total w 50% contingency) downstream. Connects the two straight sections of Kererū Road bypassing the ‘u-bend’ altogether This option was discounted because:

  • Cost prohibitive due to the size of span being 4x that of option 3 (above) and possibility of NZTA not funding it
  • Time prohibitive due to private land aquisition negotiations and being extremely hard to construct
  • The piers required for the bridge may collect debris, putting the bridge at risk during future flood events

Kereru Gorge is being funded by Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) under the cyclone recovery programme at a 100% subsidy rate. This 100% funding comes from a cyclone recovery projects funding pool across HDC.  Additional spend here increases the total rates requirement and/or the time to complete the whole recovery programme. HDC are seeking to make the most efficient use of this Crown support.

Not significantly. It is currently expected that access to the construction site will bepredominantlyfrom the Maraekakaho side of the gorge. 

Road safety improvements have been programmed and installation is expected to be completed by mid-March. This will include installation of edge marker posts and curve warning signs where needed along the full length of Salisbury Road. 

Maintenance of Salisbury Road 

The road will be graded each fortnight and rolled after each grading. The road will continue to be monitored to ensure it is kept in the best  condition possible.

We ask the community, if they notice any maintenance issues to report it online or call (06) 871 5000 so that a contractor can be allocated to this work straight away. 

The chip seal has broken down at one location and we are looking at possible solutions to address this. This will likely be asphalting, which will be done as soon as possible 

An advisory notice will be issued to trucking companies and signage installed advising vehicles about maximum recommended lengths.

In the year prior to the cyclone $17,277 (53% subsidised) was spent on the maintenance of Salisbury Road. The cost of the cyclone emergency response work was $1,200,982 (93% subsidised) and since then a further $413,205 (53% subsidised) has been spent on maintenance and resealing. 

In order for maintenance of a specific site to be clearly identified and contractors assigned, we ask the community to call (06) 871 5000 or report via the Fix-It form on the HDC website. This will enable jobs to be logged and tracked.

Olrig Bridge has been repaired to a level where materials can be transported across it. It is suitable for overweight vehicles up to 53 tonnes when travelling under an overweight permit. It is a legal requirement for all hauliers to follow any restrictions imposed by a permit. With the current weight limit we do not anticipate Olrig Bridge impacting the works at Kereru Gorge. 

Whanakino Bridge has been inspected and is fit for purpose. 

Works at Kereru Gorge and at the Olrig Bridge 411 are nointerconnected. Olrig bridge 411 is suitable for overweight vehicles up to 53 tonnes when travelling under an overweight permit. It is a legal requirement for all hauliers to follow any restrictions imposed by a permitWith the current weight limit we do not anticipate Olrig Bridge impacting the works at Kereru Gorge.

On the roading recovery section of the Hastings District Council website, there is a dedicated project page for the Kererū Road 3rd Gorge Culvert rebuild. Progress and milestones will be kept up to date here.

The presentation from the community meeting held on Monday 26 February and FAQs are also available on this webpage.

A project newsletter will also continue to be sent out regularly. If you are not signed-up to this database, you can do so here. Past newsletters will also be available on the webpage. For those not online, Council's community connectors will also relay this information to their network of contacts. 

Social media channels will also be used to inform the community of updates and upcoming events.

Hastings District Council do support Central Hawke's Bay District Council (CHBDC) with the grading of Guavas Road when requested.

All road closures appear on the Hastings District Council website. In the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle emergency services and transportation companies were advised via newsletter that there were multiple road closures across the district and to refer to this webpage. Kererū Road Gorge has appeared as being closed for 12 months now and it is signposted on Kererū Road itself. Additional and larger signs have also been added.

Comparison of Kererū gorge immediately after the cyclone and now


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