Extending 19 kilometres one way, the Pouakai Crossing is a popular hiking destination in Egmont National Park, New Zealand. Pouakai Crossing boasts a stunning landscape filled with waterfalls, sphagnum moss swamps, and views of the magnificent Taranaki Maunga and coastline.
Taranaki Maunga is subject to high rainfall each year, meaning rock-fall, landslides, and debris-flow hazards are prevalent. These potential hazardous events can negatively impact visitor experience and required an assessment to reduce the risk to track users.
Therefore, ENGEO performed a geological hazard and risk assessment over the 19km distance to provide the Department of Conservation with a basis for developing a transparent risk-management approach for the track.
As an initial screening tool, ENGEO undertook a hazard and semi-quantitative risk assessment. ENGEO completed a ‘ground-truthing mission’ to identify and assess the various hazards on the track and assign risk ratings. The team utilised Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) which uses laser light and its reflections to measure distances and identify obstacles across a wide geographic area, drone flights and helicopters, as well as walking the length of the rugged track regardless of the weather. ENGEO has now completed a detailed quantitative assessment of the four critical areas of risk highlighted in the initial screening study.
Although Taranaki Maunga and the Pouakai Ranges is a breath-taking location, the track itself has challenging terrain, with occasional 90-degree slopes, and rapidly changing weather conditions notorious to New Zealand’s backcountry. The team handled 30-degree heat on the first day, subsequently followed by rain and fog the next. This weather caused some logistical issues, with the team helicoptering halfway around the mountain to gain access to the track under low cloud.
“Thanks for the final report you have submitted to us on the geological risk assessment. The report was completed on time and to the high standard we had expected.” – Carl Whittleston, DOC
ENGEO Project Team: Karen Jones, Jed Watts, Richard Justice, Lauren Foote, Reuben Williams