Flooded out - but a dry New Year is forecast

Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013

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Heavy downpours caused flooding, slips and delays for thousands of holidaymakers in the Coromandel yesterday - and the wet weather is not over yet.

More rain is forecast for the Thames-Coromandel district today, according to MetService, but conditions are expected to clear up in time for New Year's Eve celebrations 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.

The forecast for New Year's Eve in the Coromandel is fine with light winds and a high of 23 degrees Celsius.

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."

He awoke yesterday to find Pauanui Boulevard "totally blanketed", with torrents of water over half a metre high.

It wasn't the ideal way to start the two-week summer holiday, but Mr 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.

Flooding and dozens of slips caused traffic delays for thousands travelling to popular beaches, Sergeant Jim Corbett, the officer in charge of Thames-Coromandel road policing, said.

A heavily-used stretch of State Highway 25 between Tairua and Whitianga was reduced to one lane.

The intersection of SH25 and Hot Water Beach Rd, Whenuakite, was closed to all traffic before high tide at 4.30pm yesterday.

Police advised motorists to avoid the area and either take an alternative route or delay travel plans.

Cooks Beach Resort manager Dave Gallaher said reports that the campground was evacuated were incorrect, however a few soggy campers used a nearby community hall to dry out their tents.

"We had a couple of mishaps from heavy rain, but the camp's still very open."

He said the nearby stream broke its banks about 9am yesterday, but it subsided within half an hour. A small number of campers decided to cut their holiday short and head home, but most braved the bad weather and were enjoying the sun yesterday afternoon.

"It caused us a bit of grief, but we're all good," Mr Gallaher said. "It's back to normal, it's just been a hard day at the office."

Mr Corbett said campers at a camping ground in Opoutere, near Whangamata, were given the option of relocating to the local primary school.

There was also surface flooding in Mt Maunganui and Papamoa yesterday. 

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- Waikato Times


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