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Otira gorge and viaduct near Arthurs Pass, South Island of New Zealand

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Published on Apr 5, 2011

Recorded on 15 February 2011 overlooking Otira Gorge and the viaduct, which was opened in 1999. This is on State Highway 73 a few kilometres west of Arthurs Pass and about 160km from Christchurch by road.

This is a highly dynamic alpine environment in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. It has very high rainfall around the year - not unheard of for 300 millimetres (12 inches)to fall in a day. Tectonic uplift is about 30 millimetres a year, and erosion rates are about the same, which generates a lot of sediment that piles up in the valleys to be transported by rivers. Sources of erosion in the Southern Alps are aeolian, rainfall and freeze/thaw action as well as seismic activity.

Otira Gorge viaduct was opened in 1999 by the Rt. Hon Jenny Shipley, then Prime Minister of New Zealand to replace a notorious section of road set above a major slip that culminated in what drivers called the Otira Hairpins. The road shown in the video is much steeper than it looks - 16% - and its about 50 metres from top of viaduct to the valley floor.

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