The flood threat to the Waitaki River, swelled by three days
of heavy rain, has eased but holiday-makers in the Waitaki
Lakes and at Lake Pukaki are still being warned of rising
water levels as spilling starts from hydro lakes.
Energy company Meridian began spilling water from Lake Pukaki
late on Wednesday night.
Meridian spokeswoman Michelle Brooker said a gradual spill
would take place for ''a good few weeks'', and spills at
Lakes Ohau and Benmore might also be needed.
''We have received over 500mm in the headwaters of the
Waitaki in the last two days, increasing levels in Lake
Pukaki to 532.88m.
''The increase in water levels, due to the weather event and
low electricity demand during the holiday period, means we
are monitoring our lake levels carefully and may need to
eventually also spill from Lakes Ohau and Benmore.''
Ms Brooker said two teams of Meridian staff travelled the
banks of Lake Pukaki and the Ohau River to warn campers to
retreat from the shore.
''The Ohau River is high anyway, because of rain at the
moment. Obviously water rises, so there is a possibility it
might overflow on to the banks. And I think there is some
more rain forecast as well.''
Although heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday resulted in the
Rangitata River hitting flood levels on Wednesday evening,
Environment Canterbury (ECan) duty flood controller Tony
Henderson said the Lower Waitaki River was not expected to
Mr Henderson said the hydro lakes had absorbed much of the
rain, but were at a stage where they were very full.
''From what I can gather if they [Meridian] do have to
discharge from Lake Benmore it won't be at flood levels. It
will certainly be higher than the normal flow, but not at
However, he said the Rangitata, which normally ran at just
under 100cumecs during the summer, peaked at 2000cumecs about
6pm on Wednesday.
It had fallen to 1400cumecs yesterday, and was dropping
steadily, but it would take three to four days to return to
normal, he said.
''People just need to be careful because water levels are
high and the river will be dirty.
He said campers, hikers and recreational anglers needed to be
mindful of the possibility of rising water levels in the
Pukaki and Ohau Rivers, as well as all catchment areas above
Lake Waitaki and down the Waitaki River.
Police in Otematata said they had already moved campers at
Fisherman's Bend on Lake Aviemore to higher ground prior to
the Pukaki spill.