30 Oct 2023

Severe weather warning for Coromandel extended till tomorrow

From Checkpoint, 5:07 pm on 30 October 2023

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Lola has swirled its way down the country, causing havoc in Northland and Auckland before slamming into the Coromandel.  
The peninsula is under an orange heavy rain warning until 9am Tuesday. The storm is the fifth severe weather event the Coromandel has had in the past 12 months, and locals are getting sick of it.  

At the Dickson Holiday Park on Monday, a torrent of water gushed past, missing the camp - this time. 

Owner Matthias said the series of bad weather had really hurt business. 
"I think people are losing confidence in planning their holidays on a campground. It can get drenched with water and people are working less in advance. 

"We have not been able to sell many of the normal sites for campervans. We had only a few campervans and campers. Only the roof accommodations [cabins] were really well booked." 

He also owns Jolly Bikes, which runs bike tours across the Hauraki District.  
"There have been almost no bookings for longer periods. Because of that bad weather and the bookings we had, we had to refund a lot. So they were actually no earnings for quite some time and we had to get the help of the government to survive," he said. 

Matthias said he could not imagine the weather this summer would be nice. 

"I'll believe it when I see it. We bought this business about 16 months ago and the weather has been so unreliable and dreadful that I can't even kind of imagine that it's going to be nice and dry summer." 

Dixon Holiday Park in Thames on 30 October 2023.

Dixon Holiday Park in Thames. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Several schools closed across the peninsula, because of the heavy rain and strong winds, with principals making the call it was better for students to be at home than braving the bad conditions on the roads. 

Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler was pleased about that. 

"Luckily we're dealing primarily with the resident population of the Coromandel who have built a lot of resilience. A lot of people have made very good, informed decisions," he said. 
Heavy rain near Thames caused the Kauaeranga River to flow onto the road, causing flooding about 1m deep, closing Kauaeranga Valley Road and putting a spanner in people's plans. 
All bookings for the Department of Conservation hut at the Pinnacles were cancelled. 

Kauaeranga Valley Christian Camp had to postpone student campers until Tuesday and Parawai School opened for supervision only, delaying its dress-up-like-a-book-character day. 

PK, who has been coming to Thames most of his life, was worried for tourists stuck at the other end of submerged Kauaeranga Valley Road. 

"I know there are French and German tourists up there that I've met that probably didn't heed the warnings to get out, because they didn't understand how severe this was going to be. 
"Some of them will have been up at the Pinnacles hut and they've come down, so they didn't know what was going to happen. And they've arrived back at their campgrounds to find their campervans more than a metre underwater." 
Lorenza lives on the road and was worried about getting to her animals. 
"I've got lambs, a late lamber, couple of days ago up there. Young chickens. Things in coops that need feeding so I'd like to get up there.  
She said she wished she had stayed at the property last night but the officials kept saying "ex-cyclone". 
"This river is higher here than at [Cyclone] Gabrielle." 

Heavy rain near Thames caused flooding which resulted in the closure of Kauaeranga Valley Road.

Heavy rain near Thames caused flooding which resulted in the closure of Kauaeranga Valley Road. Photo: RNZ / Nick Monro

Resident Michelle said the flooding happened at least once a year.  
"Maybe two or three times a year if you've got bad luck, but I'm used to it. I just got stuck on the wrong side today." 

Angus tried backing a truck through the floodwaters, but instead he sent a photo back to the office. 
"I'm meant to be going to pick up a machine on the other side of that. It's not going to happen now." 
MetService said another 120mm of rain was expected tomorrow for the Coromandel, and warned more flooding and slips were possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.