Debris litters coast

TEAM WORK: Contractors pick up debris from the Rena from Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel.
TEAM WORK: Contractors pick up debris from the Rena from Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel.

More debris from the stricken Rena washed ashore on Coromandel beaches, with crews cleaning up along the Mercury Bay coastline yesterday.

Swells as high as 12 metres pounded the ship on Friday, making the seas so rough clean-up crews had no option but to stand on beaches and wait for debris to wash up.

Waikato Regional Council's Adam Munro yesterday said the seas had calmed down, though there were still winds and showers.

Cleaning up focused on Mercury Bay and Matapaua Bay after more debris including milk bags, timber, noodles and plastics arrived.

"We've done three to four trailer loads. It looks like that's going to be about it," Munro said.

"The locals probably did most of the work – they piled it up for us."

Munro said the clean-up team would again check Hot Water Beach and Sailors Grave for any more debris.

About 30 people swept Hot Water Beach on Friday and collected about half a trailer load's worth of debris.

"It is quite painstaking work as all the debris is tangled up in clumps of seaweed, due to the heavy swell," Munro said on Friday.

Contractors on Friday also headed south to Opoutere for a clean-up sweep there, with reports of noodles and timber coming ashore, while volunteers continued to clean Sailors Grave beach, just north of Tairua.

There was a large amount of debris on the rocky coastline north of Tairua that couldn't be accessed easily.

Maritime New Zealand warned people to take care if using the beach or water off the Coromandel or Bay of Plenty.

Strong winds and rough seas were forecast to continue through until today.

Boat skippers and vessel masters were reminded to take extreme care. An exclusion zone remained in place for the Astrolabe Reef, and navigational warnings remained. The public should phone 0800 645 774 to report any sightings of oil coming ashore.

Sunday News