Long term road repairs - severe weather damage
Find out about the roading recovery and repair process from extreme weather events since 2022 including slips, potholes, tree work and temporary road closures.
The Northland local road network has suffered approximately $89 million worth of damage from at least ten different significant weather events since July 2022, with an estimated $20 million of this in Whangārei District.
Storm flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle caused considerable damage to roads and footpaths in our District with 167 individual roads impacted – the highest on record for a single event.
We have restored most roads but are still working on 10 sites in Whangārei District. The repairs needed for these sites are significant and complex and will take some time to work through.
3 years to complete remaining repairs
We expect the remaining repairs such as major slips and road damage to take around 3 years to complete.
We prioritise repairs based on:
- The risk to safety
- Where roads form the only access to a community
- Where we have the resources available
In some locations we have only been able to provide a temporary fix, such as one-lane of access, until we can permanently rebuild the road.
Please support road workers by driving slowly past work sites and being patient with the detours and temporary closures that need to be in place.
Where there are road issues with potential safety risks like new slips, cracks in roads, flooding, or trees falling over roads / cycleways, please report them to us as soon as possible.
Report it: Roads and footpaths
We are in Phase 3 of the recovery
Our response program follows the process described by Waka Kotahi funding requirements:
Phase 1: Initial response
Urgently completed within 4-6 weeks of the event to reinstate basic levels of access, secure sites against further damage, and minimise hazards. These initial activities include:
- Clearance of over-slips to reinstate at least 1 trafficable lane
- Clearance of debris and fallen trees
- Implementation of effective traffic management solutions
- Stability measures on dropouts and slips that are not compromising the network or isolating communities.
Phase 2: Minor recovery works
Following the initial response we can begin minor works, generally costing less than $100k per site with lower risk and restoring most roads to their previous condition. Each site requires an application to Waka Kotahi and funding approval. Activities include, but are not limited to:
- Simple rock retention walls
- Minor road narrowing
- Pavement dig-outs and geotextile wraps
- Hazardous tree removals. Includes costs for geotechnical risk assessments and options reporting (Emergency Works Assessments), as well as commencement of in-depth geotechnical investigation and designs to inform Phase 3 funding applications.
Phase 3: Major recovery works (current phase)
During the third phase we can undertake major repair works, those generally costing more than $100k per site, with higher risk and requiring geotechnical investigations and detailed design work. Each site requires an application to Waka Kotahi and funding approval. Activities include:
- Complex rock spall retention walls
- Shear key retention walls
- Timber or Concrete pile retaining walls
Funding the recovery through rates and Government subsidies
When an extreme weather event causes damage to a local road network, Waka Kotahi (NZTA, the New Zealand Government's Transport Agency) provides a funding process to assist Councils with the cost of repairs. The normal Funding Assistance Rate (FAR) for Whangārei District, across all subsidised road maintenance and renewals activities, is 53%. When the funding request for emergency works within any year exceeds 10% of the approved Maintenance, Operations, and Renewals (MOR) budget, the FAR is increased by 20%. In the case of Cyclone Gabrielle, an additional one-off special funding assistance rate of 40% has been advised above the normal FAR.
Councils are required to fund the remaining balance which is generally provided for through their Emergency Response Reserve Fund provisions, however with the extent of the current damage, the cost of the local share exceeds the available reserves. Additional unbudgeted funds will need to be approved by elected members of each Northland Council.
Keeping up normal maintenance of road surfaces
Recent storm events have also compounded issues like potholes, grading of gravel roads, maintenance of drains and road sweeping. Heavy rain not only causes further damage, it also redirects resources away from maintenance and into more urgent recovery work.
As resources allow, we are still working on potholes and other basic maintenance. If you are aware of sites which are especially dangerous, even for drivers who slow down, please report them so they can be scheduled for repair.
Report road issues
More about slips and other major repairs
Land slips can be slow and complex to restore. Changes to the landscape above or beneath roads and footpaths pose a risk of sliding further at the next rainfall event, and may need cautious assessment and professionally designed solutions in order to make them safe.
Have you been affected by a slip?
- If there is an immediate safety risk call 111.
- If you can smell gas call 111.
- If your property is affected, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.
- If a public road or footpath looks unstable and has a risk of moving, or you can safely determine that a slip is about to happen, please call us on 0800 932 463, or 09 430 4200 (24 hours).
- If you have no power, call your electricity provider.
- If a dangerous hazard is posed by the electricity network (such as damaged poles or downed / clashing power lines) contact Northpower.
- If your water pipe is broken- turn off the mains and contact us on 0800 932 463, or 09 430 4200 (24 hours).
Safety around slips
- Stay away from the slip area, this is dangerous and should be avoided.
- Follow signs and stay behind safety barriers and at least 1m behind cones and other delineation devices.
- Please do not attempt to travel through closed sections of the road. This can cause further damage and risk to your safety and the safety of others.
- Sightseeing is discouraged especially in Resident-only access areas. This puts already vulnerable roads under stress and causes safety risks. Access is only for those who live in these areas.
- Have a plan and be ready to leave quickly if you need to, especially in areas prone to slips.
- Do not attempt to voluntarily clear fallen trees or debris, excavate slips or roads in these areas. It is unsafe. Please leave it to emergency response crews and contractors as they have safety assessment procedures in place. Whilst it can look safe, there can be stability issues in the ground beneath.
- In some places, it’s unsafe to open the road to even one lane of traffic, due to the nature of the damage, and the unknown stability of the remaining road surface.
- If you think it will be a safety risk, call 111.
Slips on private land
- Private land owners are responsible for repairing damage to their own land including repairing slips on their land due to storm events.
- Private work may require the land owner to stabilise land to prevent further slips.
- Vehicle crossing repair (where the driveway leaves the legal boundary of a property and continues until it meets the road. It allows vehicles to cross over berms or footpaths to access the road) and reinstatement is the responsibility of private landowners. Private landowners are directed to section 26 of the Whangarei District Council Public Places Bylaw 2014 .
- If a private landowner has constructed an accessway to their property on an unformed road (either with or without the approval of Council)
- Council is not responsible for maintaining or repairing that accessway. It is an offence under the Local Government Act 1974 to do work on the road without Council’s approval.
- In the case of private land or property damaged in recent storm events, the owner of that land or property should contact their insurance provider to discuss the damage.
- A private landowner may be able to make a claim with EQC for slips on their land. A private landowner should contact EQC to find out if they qualify for cover.
- If a private landowner is unsure where their property boundary exists, they should get in touch with Council on 0800 932 463, or 09 430 4200 (24 hours).
Slips on public land, roads, footpaths
Please report slips to us on 0800 932 463, or 09 430 4200 (24 hours).
Slips which affect both public and private land
- Where a slip affects both private property and public roads, this may require discussions between the private landowner and Council as to repairs.
- Any private assets (such as garages, fences and other structures) located on the road require Council’s approval for that encroachment. Those assets (including their repair) are the responsibility of the private landowner.
- Repairing damage to a driveway is the responsibility of the private landowner.
- Repairing damage to a vehicle crossing is the responsibility of the private landowner.
- In the first instance, private landowners should ask their insurance providers what is covered by their insurance. Please contact us if you need assistance to identify your boundary.
Complexity around large slips and the time it takes to fix them.
- Slips can’t always be fixed quickly, especially when they’re in remote areas with limited access.
- We need to investigate and assess sites that require technical expertise, which can take time.
- This information helps us to come up with a plan on what’s the best way to repair the damage.
Further support from the Earthquake Commission (EQC)
- The Earthquake Commission (EQC) is a New Zealand Crown entity that provides insurance to residential property and invests in natural disaster research and education.
- If your home is insured, you may be covered by EQC for a natural landslip. For more information go to EQC on its website or call on 0800 DAMAGE (0800 326 243)
Earthquake Commission website