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Sections along the Hauraki Rail Trail were severely damaged after Cyclone Gabrielle. File Photo: SUPPLIED

Rail trail set for Easter reopening

After being battered by severe rainfall and slips during Cyclone Gabrielle, the Waihi to Waikino section of the Hauraki Rail Trail looks set to reopen in time for Easter.
Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Thames Valley and surrounding areas in the early morning hours of February 14 and caused the floodgates at Criterion Bridge, Paeroa, to be used for the first time since 2018.
Hauraki Rail Trail Trust chief executive Diane Drummond told The Profile that the hardest hit spot along the 160km trail was Section C, Paeroa to Waihī; most remarkably, the Waikino to Waihī leg. A section of the trail just past the Goldfields Railway in Waikino had slipped completely.
But now, the trail looks set to reopen by Thursday, April 6.
We will be soft, and all areas will need to be ridden with care, as this is not the final surface,” Diane said.
Throughout the week, new metalling from Sandpit Corner to Bridge C9 has been laid, while the major slip near Queens Head has been reshaped. Crews are also busy levelling the area between the slip around to the concreted area east of Queens Head. 
“We have a second slump that needs some attention while the machinery is onsite, and all going well, [it] will be done and dusted on Wednesday.”
Diane said the trust was still experiencing issues with “many” cyclists ignoring the closed signs, causing delays for the works team.  She asked riders to: “please stay off the trail, we understand that everyone is keen to see the progress, we are too, but riders are slowing down the works, and present a major safety issue”.
Once the works team is done, volunteer groups will help with the clean up of fence-lines.   
Also starting this week, Diane said, is the boxing for concrete between the Kopu Tunnel and the entrance to farmland as riders head towards Matatoki.  Stop/Go’s will be in place to assist cyclists to get through. 
The concrete will be poured early next week, after the Easter break, so expect the trail here to be closed for two days.