Well before their millionth Kaikoura clearance rock, Abseil Access workers discovered a rock of much greater cultural significance – Tombstone.

Tombstone is rock on a site that contains a number of human bones, probably Maori from battles in the 19th Century. Abseil’s CHO (Chief Historical Officer) Tom Arnold said when they first discovered the human bones in late January, including a ribcage and a skull, it was a little unnerving and shocking. Abseil Access workers during their clearing along the earthquake stricken Kaikoura Coast have found many sizable and interesting rocks and features, which they in turn name – there’s Shark’s Tooth, the Coffin, and most significantly, and literally – Tombstone.


March 16 was a significant date for Abseil Access workers clearing earthquake slips along the closed State Highway One north of Kaikoura. That date according to Abseil Access CMO (chief mathematics officer), Donald Matheson, was the day Abseil workers shifted their one-millionth rock. “Though,” says Matheson, “if we included bits of dirt and small pebbles, the number would be in the trillions, but our millionth rock calculation has been based on rocks bigger than a legally sized paua – which most of them, substantially, are.”

The calculation has been made based on the fact Abseil Access workers have been working clearing slips above the scarred highway since 16 November. An average of at least 20 skilled workers are on site(s) each day, and each worker shifts an average of 485 legally sized rocks per day. Abseil Access CAO (chief accuracy officer), Martin Wilson, says, “The figures are all legitimate and accurate. I know for a fact that DJ’s abacus never lies.  As well, realistically I think most rocks shifted are actually bigger than really big balls”.

Abseil workers had expected to shift their one millionth rock on March 14, coincidentally, four month’s since the Kaikoura earthquake, but torrential rain and strong winds delayed the shift until the, extremely coincidental, four month (March 16) anniversary of Abseil starting work on the slope clearing.

For live footage of some previous rock clearing, shot by Richard Phillips of Tonkin+Taylor – Click here! Can you count how many are legally sized rocks?


Proud to be part of this billion dollar road construction project which will transform the lower North Island.

Our services were called in for two 250kJ rockfall fences protecting the piers of bridge 20, the biggest bridge on the project.


Top of Wellingtons highest mountain and back at our favorite oversized football for the upteenth time. Two full repaints (1996 and 2012) and annual wash downs and were getting to know this unusual structure quite well…but this is the calmest night ever and warm too, Leons in a ‘T’ shirt!

If only it were the central hub for global spy network, unfortunately it is only the primary radar for NZ Civil Aviation.