9 Mar 2018

Evacuation of stranded tourists begins

2:46 pm on 9 March 2018

The air evacuation of around a hundred tourists stranded at Blue Duck Station near Taumarunui is now under way.

Flooding, mud and debris at Blue Duck Station.

Flooding, mud and debris at Blue Duck Station. Photo: Facebook

Efforts to clear the road of slips which trapped the tourists yesterday have run into difficulty, with new slips coming down trapping machinery.

Ruapehu Emergency Management Officer Nick Watson said five commercial helicopters will help with rescue efforts.

They will also be flying in fresh supplies of food and water for around 20 people including the owners and staff who will be remaining behind, he said.

Currently the road isn't a main priority, but an aerial survey of the road will be done later today to see the extent of the damage, he said.

Station owner Dan Steele said visitors have been fantastic and remained in good spirits.

"We've had stranded guests off the Whanganui River who had their canoes washed away, so we've been looking after them and we've had cyclists who've been doing the Tour Aotearoa with all their mountain bikes and we've got all our guests to look after," he said.

The station is still without power and water supply has been affected, but Mr Steele was thankful there had been supplies flown in.

Unfortunately, there's still a big job ahead as the business has been ground to a financial halt, he said.

"Obviously no tourists can come in, so our income stops, we can't shift our stock very far because there's thousands of slips on the property.

"We've got hungry stock we've got to try and get feed to, which is very difficult," he said.

Even if the road is opened to four wheel drives today, there's still structural damage to bridges and roads, he said.