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SealProtecting Kaikōura’s unique coastal marine area and mitigating any impacts the rebuild work may have on any wildlife in the area is a top priority for our programme of work.

We’re working closely with the Department of Conservation to ensure that our work to clear the slips blocking SH1 and the railway line is carried out in a way that takes account of the need to protect the environment and cultural values of the area.

We have engaged an independent marine scientist to work with us as we develop options for clearing the slips on the coastal route. The need to mitigate the impact of our work on seals and other wildlife in the area is an extremely important consideration as we progress our plans to clear the slips and rebuild the road and rail corridor.

We’re committed to re-opening SH1 and the railway line as quickly as possible to re-connect communities and help get the region back on its feet. Equally, we need to carry out this work in a way which recognises and respects the importance of the marine environment.

The first phase of this work is two-week trial, which is now underway at Site 7, a 20,000 cubic metre slip 300m north of Ohau Point. The trial is using seal-proof fencing (pictured) and on–site seal herding to keep seals and their pups away from the immediate base of the slip site, clear of falling rocks and debris while helicopter sluicing and slip clearance work is carried out. The fencing is working well.

At the end of the trial, the results will be reviewed to develop the best methods to use during our work programme. This is challenging work and we may need to come up with some creative solutions to keep the seals out of harm’s way.