23 Jul 2012

Flooding, slips hit Waikato, Coromandel

10:42 pm on 23 July 2012

Bad weather has caused travel chaos in Waikato and Coromandel, with the latest closure a main route on the Coromandel Peninsula.

MetService has lifted its rain warning for Coromandel, but is forecasting further heavy downpours for western Bay of Plenty and Gisborne overnight and Tuesday.

Slips and swollen rivers have shut parts of State Highways 2 and 26, prompting the Transport Agency to advise only essential travel.

SH 25 between Coromandel and Whitianga will stay closed overnight due to a large slip.

Rising river levels earlier forced the closure of SH 2 at Karangahake Gorge, west of Waihi.

Transport Agency acting state highways manager for Waikato, Karen Boyt, says the gorge is likely to stay closed until Tuesday.

Slips also closed SH 2 east of Waihi, at Athenree Gorge, but Ms Boyt says one lane reopened on Monday.

Alternative routes are available for Karangahake Gorge using SH 29 via Tauranga or SH 25A between Kopu and Hikuai.

The Transport Agency says SH 26 north of Te Aroha and again at Paeroa is also closed.

Waikato Regional Council says the Ohinemuri River is flooding and the Piako, Waihou and Waitoa Rivers are also swollen.

It's monitoring levels overnight, especially at high tide which was expected about 10pm.

SH 26 was closed at Paeroa after the regional council shut floodgates at the Criterion Bridge over the Ohinemuri River.

The council says the rain is expected to prolong high levels in the Waikato and Waipa rivers, which rose following heavy rain in the Waipa catchment over a week ago.

MetService says 207mm of rain fell in 24 hours at one of its sites on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Forecaster Mads Naeraasays Auckland and Northland also experienced heavy falls.

MetService is predicting 40mm of rain to fall in western Bay of Plenty on Monday night, and up to 130mm around the ranges near Gisborne.

It's warning people to watch out for flooding, slips and rapidly rising rivers and streams.