Mt Cook counts weather cost

It is no wonder they are talking about the weather at Mt Cook.

The weather has blown out the windows of an alpine hut, smashed the windows of campervans, and dumped almost a metre of rain in the area over the last few weeks.

The new Hooker swing bridge has re-opened after being closed as a precaution following high winds last Wednesday.

The bridge sustained minor damage and underwent modifications before reopening, DOC community relations programme manager Shirley Slatter said yesterday.

While the bridge was never structurally unstable or unsafe, it was closed as a precaution until an engineer could check it out.

Wind gusts of 170kmh were recorded at Mt Cook Airport on Wednesday night, before the recording device stopped working. On the same night three campervans at the White Horse camping ground had windows blown out.

DOC staff plan to fly to the Barron Saddle Hut tomorrow to repair windows which blew out. There was a guided party in the hut at the time.

The hut is not far from the site of the Three Johns Hut which was blown into the Dobson Valley in 1977, killing four members of the Wanganui Tramping Club.

The 90mm of rain that fell on Sunday brings the total for the last two weeks to more than 930mm, making it one of the wettest periods ever in the park.

On average between 4 and 4 metres of rain fall in the area annually.

The recent rain washed away some shingle off the new Sealy Tarns track and washed out portions of the link track from Kea Point to the camping ground.

The ford in the camping ground was also impassable for a time.

The water intake for the village was washed out and there was also flooding downstairs at the DOC visitor centre, Mrs Slatter said.

Lightning has caused fire alarms in the village to be set off five times in the last two weeks, and some residents have had modems, computers and phone connections knocked out.

The Timaru Herald