'Reckless' cyclists are risking their lives by taking to an abandoned highway which was closed after massive and repeated rockfalls.
State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge is closed, with rock falls continuing, but people are still taking risks and using it, says Tararua District councillor Alison Franklin.
Franklin expressed horror at seeing cyclists on the road, when she was aboard the a railcar recently.
The Pahiatua Railcar Society has been running train trips through the gorge between Woodville and Ashhurst, giving passengers a rare view of the state of the former highway and the 72 bridges along its length.
The old gorge road is deemed extremely dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.
Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said she too was concerned about emergency services teams needing to attend any accident in the area.
The NZ Transport Agency condemned the behaviour of any cyclists who chose to ignore clear signage which directed people not to enter the gorge.
Regional transport systems manager Ross I'Anson, said: "Going out of their way to get past the security gates and fences blocking access poses a huge safety risk to the cyclists as well as anyone who might be called to assist them in an emergency situation.
"It is reckless and dangerous, and anyone caught will be prosecuted."
I'Anson said anyone seeing cyclists on the Manawatū Gorge road should call the Police.
The main highway connecting southern Hawke's Bay with the Manawatū has been closed since large slips caused major damage to the road in April last year during severe weather.
Geotechnical investigations and long-term monitoring have established the hillsides in parts of the gorge were highly unstable and the gorge road was no longer viable as a safe transport route for the region.
Traffic has been diverted through Saddle Rd, north of the gorge, since the closure.
The New Zeland Transport Agency has identified an alternate route and set a timeline of a new, replacement highway being open by mid-2024.
The chosen new route option announced in March, would be north of the gorge and south of the Saddle Road and bypass Ashhurst