Clarence River not as bad as feared, but people warned to stay away
Civil Defence is not evacuating residents in the Clarence River area, but says people should keep away from the river and flood plains.
A slip dammed the river about 10 kilometres upstream from the mouth, north of Kaikoura, after Monday morning's 7.5-magnitude earthquake. The banked-up water burst through the wall of debris about 4.20pm. A helicopter in the area saw the breach and the water beginning to roll downstream.
Civil defence regional controller Brett Aldridge said residents were not being evacuated, but were advised to keep away from the river and flood plains.
Six kayakers unaccounted for when the surge started have been found safe after abandoning their gear by the river bank.
A separate group of 16 rafters on the flooded river this afternoon have been contacted by police. They were upstream from the slip site, away from the danger area.
The kayakers and rafters were being evacuated to Blenheim.
Aldridge said communications to the area were irregular, and he wasn't sure if the wall of water had reached the sea as of 8:30pm.
"But it must be there or thereabouts."
Aldridge said a Search and Rescue helicopter recently surveyed the dam, and it wasn't a total breach.
"So the water that's been released isn't the worst case that it could have been. It's quite a bit less than that," he said.
"It'll be quite well-contained in river banks and it's not going to be a large issue."
Civil Defence had not heard any reports of the flood water causing damage to bridges.
"We've got word there's engineers that will be going up there first flights tomorrow."
Ongoing earthquakes meant there were risks of landslides into North Canterbury rivers.
The river is one of New Zealand's largest.