The soaked Norris family, from left, Joanna, Kate, 10,
Scott, Amy and Hannah, both 14. Photo NZ Herald
The most intense downpour some Coromandel residents had
seen in decades sent campers fleeing to higher ground
The fierce deluge sent slips across roads, left rivers
swollen and had many residents along the peninsula's eastern
coast cleaning up flooded sections and streets, at a time
when visitor numbers at the summer destination are at their
Some campers at Cooks Beach were moved to a local community
hall early in the morning, while campers at Opoutere near
Whangamata were given the option of moving to a local primary
Several other holidaymakers at Tairua also chose to evacuate
to the town community hall.
Other badly hit areas were Pauanui, Matarangi and Whitianga,
where 120mm of rain fell in just 12 hours.
Scott and Joanna Norris and their children Kate, Amy and
Hannah were camping at Pauanui Glade Holiday Park when they
were woken by the sound of torrential rain on their tent.
The noise of the downpour was so loud she could hardly call
out to her children, just a few metres away.
"We were all right until about 6.30am when my husband got up
and stood in a puddle of water, and it all went from there,"
Mrs Norris said.
The family, staying in Pauanui over the Christmas and New
Year period, had to use a cardboard beer box to bail water
from their tent, but were thankful nothing valuable had been
Later in the morning, streets around the holiday spot were so
flooded that children set out in their kayaks, while locals
began stacking sandbags to combat surface water.
At several campgrounds elsewhere along the coast, tents were
submerged in knee-high water.
Long-time Pauanui resident Bruce Burt described the deluge as
one of the worst he had seen in more than three decades in
"All of the years I've been here, it's never come down like
that - I was down in my garage, having to use a broom to
sweep all of the water away," he said.
"It started off relatively lightly, but then just got heavier
and heavier, and around 6am it just started pelting down."
He said a friend's son tried to leave for Wellington in his
brand new BMW but it suddenly filled with water and the
engine was flooded.
Tairua traffic controller Russ Harmer said many sections
around the coastal township were flooded after water poured
down surrounding hills. He said the fiercest downpour came
after a "big thunderclap" around 6am.
He set out to check on the roads around town and could hardly
see in front of him - even with windscreen wipers at full
"Fortunately it was low tide and there were few cars on the
road, otherwise things might have been different."
Niki Flanagan, of Wentworth Valley Campground in Whangamata,
described the downpour as "bloody heavy rain".
Worried about the nearby river rising, she went out and
checked on her campers. "But no one seemed stressed about it
all, and everyone was going about their business."
By late yesterday, many fields along the eastern coast of the
peninsula were still under water, and at the highway entrance
to tourist hot spot Hot Water Beach, vehicles queued to
negotiate a long stretch of road submerged by a swollen
The flooded state of many waterways caused authorities to
closely monitor high tide at 4.40pm yesterday, but there were
Sergeant Jim Corbett, the officer in charge of road policing
in the Thames-Coromandel area, said local council, traffic
management and volunteer fire fighting crews had done
"sterling work" in areas affected by flooding and slips.
Thames Valley Civil Defence manager Gary Talbot said a final
check last night found no lingering problems.
"While all the campers in tents didn't, everyone else seems
to have got off lightly."
Mr Talbot encouraged motorists travelling around the region
to keep driving carefully, and for campers to be aware of how
quickly weather conditions could change.