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Auckland Transport challenges SeaLink’s safety concerns as Great Barrier Island’s Tryphena Wharf stays open

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In a defiant response to SeaLink’s claims of structural peril at Tryphena Wharf, Auckland Transport (AT) insists the facility remains open and safe, sparking a contentious divide over Great Barrier Island’s main port.

Joshua Hyland, AT’s delivery manager for public transport facilities, responding to SeaLink’s decision to cease operations to Tryphena on Monday, said: “Auckland Transport has not closed Tryphena Wharf and our engineers have assessed it as safe to use under normal conditions.”

Hyland’s statement late Tuesday downplays SeaLink’s safety concerns, which led to an abrupt rerouting of ferry services and unsettling travel plans for the looming Easter weekend.

“SeaLink has made the independent decision to stop services to Tryphena Wharf based on their own risk assessment,” Hyland said, marking a clear rift between the ferry operator’s cautionary stance and AT’s assurances of safety.

The saga began when SeaLink, citing a “risk of collapse”, announced an indefinite diversion of its ferry services from the wharf last night.

“The urgency of this [the diversion] has come as a surprise to us,” SeaLink said in a statement Monday evening.

Its assessment prompted the immediate and indefinite diversion of all ferry services to alternative ports, Port Fitzroy and Whangaparapara Wharf, effective immediately.

SeaLink said the Tryphena Wharf’s support piles are reportedly compromised and the situation was severe enough to warrant its actions.

With the diversions in place, freight heading to Tryphena, the island’s largest settlement, will need to be hauled by truck from Whangaparapara, 20km away, or take the hour-long trek from Port Fitzroy in the north.

Passengers without vehicles should use the “people and post” shuttle service, phone 0800 426 832, or liaise with their rental car operator.

AoteaGBI.News has learned contractors were initially scheduled to service Tryphena Wharf at the end of the month. However, a regular user of the wharf alleged AT, which is responsible for its maintenance, “had no idea” about the deteriorating condition of the facility.

Regardless of the conflicting opinions on the wharf’s safety, AT said the ferry diversions create an opportunity to bring forward the planned maintenance.

“SeaLink’s decision to divert services from Tryphena Wharf does provide an opportunity to expedite the project and reduce the overall duration of works and the period of disruption,” Hyland said.

“We will be keeping the local board and the community informed on this.”

The revised sailing schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 27: 7.30am to 2pm at Fitzroy
  • Thursday, march 28: 7.30am to 2.30pm at Fitzroy
  • Friday, March 29: 5.30am to noon at Whangaparapara
  • Saturday, March 30: 5.30am to noon at Whangaparapara
  • Sunday, March 31: 7am to 2pm at Whangaparapara
  • Monday, April 1: 7am to 2pm at Whangaparapara
  • Tuesday, April 2: 7.30am to 2.30pm at Whangaparapara

This article was first published on AoteaGBI.News

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