Expect a dry New Year's Eve

SIOBHAN DOWNES
Last updated 12:24 30/12/2013

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Holidaymakers dampened by wet weather need not abandon their tents just yet - there is "light at the end of the tunnel", MetService says.

The news came as Coromandel holiday makers were wringing out their tents as the clean-up began after yesterday's stormy weather.

While remnants of the weather system that caused downpours would bring showers to most of the country today, it should clear up by tomorrow, MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said.

"We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, it is looking better, and, believe it or not, New Year's Eve for a good part of the country is going to be dry," he said.

"It's going to be one of those days tomorrow, people will be outside, they might be at the campsite - hopefully drying out. Just a good day."

HOLIDAY HOT SPOTS  FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE

Gisborne - high of 25.

Hastings - high of 26.

Kerikeri - high of 23.

Napier - high of 25.

Tauranga - high of 24.

Thames - high of 23.

Whakatane - high of 24.

Whangarei - high of 24.

Whitianga - high of 23.

Blenheim - high of 24.

Motueka - high of 23.

Places that were worst hit during the recent storms, such as Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty, were looking good over the next couple of days, as was the Hawke's Bay, Corbett said.

But the weather was in a "rollercoaster" phase, which could mean a "slightly damp start" to the new year.

"The weather is just in a bit of an up-and-down active phase ... so they'll want to take the waterproof tent and a raincoat," Corbett said.

"There could be a couple of showers, but not as mean or nasty as we've seen."

Yesterday heavy downpours caused flooding, slips and delays for thousands of holidaymakers around the country.

Thames Valley Civil Defence manager Gary Talbot said some campers dried out in community halls overnight after camping grounds were hit by the flooding.

Road crews had cleared the slips overnight and the rain had eased this morning, he said.

All Coromandel roads were open.

More rain was forecast for the Thames-Coromandel district today, according to MetService, but conditions were expected to clear up tomorrow.

''The ground is already saturated so if they get another heavy shower it will flood,'' duty forecaster Liz Walsh said.

''There are some heavy showers in the mix.''

However, she said today's rain was expected to be more isolated and sporadic than the trough that moved through the district yesterday.

'IT DIDN'T LET UP'

Douglas Lawrence, a forklift operator from Putaruru, arrived in Pauanui with his partner Jaylea Swetman and their five children just before the deluge on Saturday night.

He said the rain started at 10.30pm and didn't stop for about 12 hours.

''It was very consistent and then about midnight it really started to come down and it didn't let up.''

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He awoke yesterday to find Pauanui Boulevard ''totally blanketed'', with torrents of water more than half a metre high.

It wasn't the ideal way to start the two-week summer holiday, but Lawrence said it didn't put a stop to the fun.

''The kids made the most of it by flying through it on their bikes. It's sort of a damper to get things kicked off.''

But he said the sun had returned ''nice and bright'' yesterday afternoon.

The heavy rain affected much of the Thames-Coromandel district with reports of flooding in several holiday hot spots, including Tairua, Pauanui, Matarangi, Whitianga, Opoutere and Cooks Beach.

WET ALL AROUND

The South Island was also hit hard - firefighters were called to help with a slip near Marahau in the Tasman Region which blocked one lane of the Sandy Bay-Marahau Rd.

They also rushed to save a family from a car stuck in a Canterbury river.

Last night, parts of the South Island were set for thunderstorms with severe downpours forecast in parts of the Canterbury high country, inland Otago and Southland.

Another front was set to move in about midday, bringing heavier rain.

But it may clear this evening, leaving a fine New Year's Eve for most of the South Island, MetService said.

Yesterday, Scott Campbell, fiancee Shelley Bush and their children Zac, 3, and Kourtney, 2, were almost washed away by the roaring Eyre River.

The family were heading to Oxford in North Canterbury to buy groceries. Like many locals, they normally ducked through the ford across Eyre River as a quick way to get to town.

Campbell said the barrier arms were open and they watched another car go across before them.

About halfway across, their four-wheel drive hit a "deep patch" and got stuck.

Campbell tried reversing out but the current carried them downstream. Campbell estimated they moved 20 or 30 metres.

The children were screaming and while they waited for help Campbell initially got all the family out of the sunroof to escape as the water lapped the windows.

But the vehicle was still moving and the family dived back in for safety.

Oxford volunteer fire brigade chief fire officer Trevor Elam said the car was swept off the road into the main stream of the river and was left in a "precarious position".

Volunteer firefighters secured the car with ropes, then used an extension ladder to help the family out of the car.

The car was winched out of the river.

Meanwhile, the weather may have contributed to a high reading of E. coli, which led to a "boil water" notice being issued for Darfield residents.

Heavy rain may have contaminated the sample, said Selwyn District Council water services team leader Andy Olivier.

- Fairfax Media

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