2 Jun 2020

Rain brings down trees, pushes holidaymakers to extend stay

8:24 am on 2 June 2020

Wet and wild weather for the first holiday weekend out of lockdown flooded roads and caused slips in the Coromandel.


Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

It meant some took hours-long detours and others stayed on for a night or two extra rather than brave the weather.

Almost 500mm of rain fell in the Pinnacles over 48 hours, and 230mm in the town of Whitianga - peaking at 50mm in a single hour around midnight on Saturday.

Whitianga campground owner Grant Jonas said it was a good old storm.

"We're across the road from the beach, and the surf was so loud it sounded like we were right next door."

He said it was not traditionally a busy weekend for them but it seemed people took the excuse to getaway.

"We didn't have too many bookings, but we actually just had a lot of people turn up. We earned some money we really weren't anticipating, so that's all good."

Not far south at Hot Water Beach, Vivian Bongard said travellers made the most of the wet weather.

"Most of them had a great time. Heaps of them went to the beach and the hot pools. Nothing dramatic here, other than a lot of rain."

She said some opted out of battling the rain on the roads.

"There are a couple of people staying another night - more so because they can't be bothered driving in the bad weather home, and tacked on another night."

State Highway 25A, one of only two roads in and out of the peninsula, was closed yesterday and overnight due to flooding. It forced those leaving to take the long scenic route north around the tip of the Coromandel, adding a few hours to the trip.

A fallen tree temporarily blocked a road earlier in the weekend but was cleared quickly.

New Zealand Transport Agency systems management Waikato manager Cara Lauder said no other issues were serious enough to close any roads, but the rain and wind did make a mess.

"There are a lot of slips and little bits of rock on the road, one part of the road where we've actually lost a shoulder, a couple of culverts are blocked," she said.

"It is definitely a reasonable weather event; the Coromandel is feeling it."

State Highway 25A / Kopu-Hikuai Road has now reopened, but motorists are still being advised to drive with care as there may be debris and surface water.

Civil Defence response

Thames-Coromandel civil defence controller Garry Towler told Morning Report there were no reports so far of damage to property.

Teams of staff were going out today to assess inland roads and rural properties.

There was substantial subsidence in the rural blocks on the eastern seabord between Tairua and Whitianga, he said.

"When it's dry, an extreme dry that we've gone through, large cracks start to appear in the ground especially on hillsides and when we get torrential rain like we have had, the rain just soaks into those and the hilldsides give way very very quickly

A longliner fishing boat listed at its mooring in Whangamatā Harbour yesterday and was leaking diesel.

Towler said booms could not be put on the water yesterday because of the weather conditions but the harbourmaster would be working on that today.

He said diesel dissipated more quickly than oil.

MetService forecaster Sonja Farmer said the South Island was largely spared. But as this system slopes off to the east, another low-pressure system is travelling in from the Tasman, so the country may not be dry for long.

"We've got some drop in temperatures as well later in the week, as well as the rainfall."

Farmers welcome rain

The weekend rain had a patchy impact for farmers battling drought conditions, with a good amount for some and barely a change for others.

The east of Northland had up to 120mm of rain compared with the 10-20mm in the west, MetService says, while in Hawkes Bay around 45mm fell.

Sheep and beef farmer Jim Galloway at Bridge Pa, Hawkes Bay, said the 42mm of rain on his farm was "brilliant" but there was a long way to go before they would recover from the deficit of feed.

John Blackwell, who farms sheep and beef near Dargaville, in Northland, had around 30mm of over the weekend.

It was gentle rain, so there was no runoff to damage the paddocks, he said and as long as there is a mild winter the the region can have grass growth through the season.