Harapaki Wind Farm: Turbines take on Hawke’s Bay roads as SH5 washout fix nears completion

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Newly fixed sections of State Highway 5 are being put through its paces as Meridian Energy transports more turbines to its Harapaki Wind Farm site.

However, despite the mammoth task involved in transporting the hulking structures, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says full road closures aren’t likely and that the completed road at Esk Forest will significantly help move things along.

While the transport agency confirmed there were no road closures during the transportation of turbines in July and no further ones were expected, it said there would be traffic management in place at times with more details confirmed closer to the time.

“Waka Kotahi is pleased to have been able to help facilitate the movement of these turbines and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with Meridian on future plans,” a Waka Kotahi spokesman said.


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Newly released video from Meridian shows the $440 million construction project is definitely back on track, with the first massive components of 41 4.2MW turbines already being transported.

Meridian Energy head of renewable construction Chris More said deliveries would be ongoing six days a week (Monday to Saturday) and that transportation to be completed by the end of January.

“Typically, we will be transporting two over-dimensional loads each morning, leaving Austin St, Napier between 3am and 4am and arriving at site before 7am.

“These loads will either be blades [59m long] or tower sections [36m long].”


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Other smaller components would be delivered during the day, and while not as long, some would be over mass and wide loads.

“The number of these smaller loads will vary between two to four truckloads each day.”

Turbine components arrived in March for the Harapaki wind farm in Hawke's Bay. Photo / Warren Buckland
Turbine components arrived in March for the Harapaki wind farm in Hawke’s Bay. Photo / Warren Buckland

A major challenge for crews has been the underslip in the section of road between Te Pohue and Glengarry, which washed both lanes of road away during Cyclone Gabrielle. This delayed the project by three months.

A bypass has been used successfully for freight and other vehicles, but the trucks transporting the 55 metre turbines were too long to use it meaning they could only get through once the area was built back to its current level.

Waka Kotahi said it anticipates the newly surfaced road at Esk Forest to be fully complete in the coming weeks.

“Approximately 6500 tonnes of material, mainly aggregate, have been used to build the site back up – that’s roughly the same weight of material as two and a half Olympic sized pools,” the spokesperson said.

Harapaki will be New Zealand’s second largest wind farm and is expected to produce its first power in October 2023 and achieve full power in September 2024.

Its 41 turbines will generate enough electricity to power around 70,000 households.

Mitchell Hageman joined Hawke’s Bay Today in late January. From his Napier base, he writes regularly on social issues, arts and culture, and the community.

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