Danger warning for campers

18:25, Dec 16 2013
BE CAREFUL: While they look low, ECan is warning lake levels can change quickly.

Don't let low lake levels fool you during the holidays.

Holidaymakers planning to set up camp in the Mackenzie Basin and Waitaki Valley are being urged to watch out for potential rising river and lake levels over the Christmas and New Year period.

Although lake levels appear to be low, that can quickly change, Environment Canterbury (ECan) spokesman Phil Lees said.

Heavy Southern Alps rainfall in December and January results in water having to be spilled from Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki.

Mr Lees said it could be a beautiful day along the Waitaki lakes, or even in the Mackenzie Basin, but pouring with rain along the Main Divide.

"All that rain has to go somewhere and that leads to rising lake levels and the need for energy companies to spill water from the lakes. Water levels downstream can rise very rapidly as a result."


Campers should be especially careful after January 7 when relining work on the Tekapo canal begins, requiring the canal to be closed for 10 weeks.

Public affairs manager for Genesis Energy Richard Gordon said while the level of Lake Tekapo would be lowered in anticipation of the canal closure, it was expected the level would rise from natural inflows.

ECan's advice to holidaymakers visiting the area was to choose camping sites carefully and keep an eye on water levels.

When in doubt check flood warnings in the media or on ECan's website.

The Timaru Herald