Large landslip causes damage in Waitomo district
When mud and water began assailing her car, Joanne Tapara was confused and terrified.
Now she knows she's lucky not to be buried under hectares worth of King Country landslip.
Between five and 20 hectares of Koromiko Grazing Ltd farm slipped over the Mangaokewa river on Tuesday afternoon. The otherworldly scene can be found about 7km east of the Mangaokewa Rd intersection with State Highway 30, and about 20 km upstream of Te Kuiti.
The speed and volume of the slip carried rock and dirt over the river, blocking Mangaokewa Rd until Thursday morning.
Tapara was driving the road home from work as an office administrator at Koromiko when the slip struck.
"My heart was racing but I didn't know what the hell it was," Tapara said.
"It moved [the car], it covered all the windows and everything... When I looked back it looked like it was chasing me so I hopped back in the car and [drove] down the road."
"Someone is looking over me."
Masses of dirt and rock have filled the river and discoloured it.
Waitomo District Council said Mangaokewa river has produced safe drinking water at the Te Kuiti Water Treatment Plant so far, but its production has slowed.
Waikato Regional Council said muddied water has been showing up downstream in the Waipa River.
The Council is sampling the water to assess the degree of sedimentation.
Koromiko farm operations manager Dean Boros said they believe six cows, 40 ewes and between 60 to 70 lambs were swallowed by the mud.
Their bodies are yet to be found.
"We went down [to the slip] and saw fence ripped out and water pipes and the sheep gone and the cows gone. We realised it was pretty bad." Boros said.
"There's about 30 acres gone. Probably 10 acres (four hectares) is the main slip."
The rest of the paddock is covered in a metre of mud.
"We've got eight staff members here. We're lucky no one was down there," Boros said.
Although insurance might cover the loss of stock, the land is lost.
The amount of rain was already causing problems, Boros said.
"We've never had a winter like this. It's terrible...then you get this.
"We couldn't have done anything to prevent this. It's pretty disheartening. It was just mother nature."
Hazards team leader Rick Liefting said while such incidents are rare and the cause of the slip is yet to be determined, it is a good example of the increased risks the region faces when catchments are very saturated.
It has prompted a reminder about potential slip hazards when catchments are heavily saturated with rain, Liefting said.
"The risks of such incidents remain low, but the rainfall in the region over the last few months has been higher than in other recent years," Liefting said.
"March and April saw rainfall and river levels at their highest on record in places.
"Based on current forecast rainfall, we don't have any particular current concerns about river flooding or other rain-related hazards in the region.
"But, as this incident near Te Kuiti shows, we need to remain vigilant for hazards, risks and their potential impacts on people, transport infrastructure and the environment.