Campers have fallen victim to an atrocious start to the year,
with heavy rain, gales and snow plaguing the South Island and
lower North Island.
Queenstown Lakes District Holiday Parks general manager Greg
Hartshorne said their four campsites in Queenstown, Arrowtown
and Wanaka have suffered, with domestic travellers choosing
to stay at home.
"People will only put up with rain for so long, and even if
it's a case of them shortening their holidays ... and I guess
a few people sitting at home, if they're watching the weather
might delay or not even come."
The Queenstown campground was not quite as badly affected. It
caters for a lot of international visitors, who were not
easily able to change their plans, he said.
Mr Hartshorne said it was "bucketing down" in Queenstown
"It's probably one of the wettest Januarys I can remember.
But it's meant to be fine tomorrow."
Flash flooding has been reported in Canterbury.
Reports were received by police this evening that a large
surge of water was visible from the air moving down the
Waimakariri River towards the sea, and police were requesting
the public move away from the low lying river bank areas of
all Canterbury rivers.
Otago Regional Council flood managers are closely monitoring
river and lake levels as the rain continues to fall.
River and lake levels were continuing to rise in the
Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Hawea lakes catchments. Lakes Wanaka
and Wakatipu are high and rising. Both were now expected to
peak around midday tomorrow, a spokesman said.
Lake Wakatipu was at 311.01 metres and rising, and was
expected to peak at 311.4m, which could cause minor flooding
in low-lying parts of Queenstown.
Lake Wanaka was at 279.3m and rising and was expected to peak
at 280m. It could also cause flooding of low-lying areas
around the Wanaka waterfront, the spokesman said.
All South Island roads closed by slips and washouts today
were expected to reopen tomorrow.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) acting southern
region director Ian Duncan said contractors had cleared and
temporarily repaired the three washouts on State Highway 6
near Makarora, and were working on two sizeable slips in the
Haast Pass area.
"Good progress has been made clearing these slips - one at
Pivot Creek, 10kms north of the Haast Pass summit and the
other near the Gates of Haast - and work is continuing in an
attempt to get the road opened later tonight."
Mr Duncan said State Highway 94 from Lumsden to Te Anau would
reopen tomorrow morning.
A slip 5kms west of Klondyke Corner closed State Highway 73
from Cass to Arthur's Pass for much of the day. About 500
cubic metres of debris fell onto the road and contractors
were on site clearing the road.
SH 94 Milford Road, from Hollyford to Milford Sound, had
reopened but only for bus convoys carrying cruise ship
passengers back to Milford Sound and bringing out walkers
from the Milford Track. It remained closed to all other
traffic until tomorrow morning.
Further north, the Greater Wellington Regional Council was
calling for people to heed the total fire ban at Porirua's
Whitireia Park following a small blaze on the park's western
beach on Sunday.
The driftwood fire flared up late in the afternoon, covering
an area of about 20x30 metres.
"The cause appeared to be a beach fire that wasn't properly
extinguished. In fact, our Parks staff had noticed an
increase in evidence of beach fires, such as charred
driftwood, before the fire on Sunday," Regional Council's
Western Principal Ranger Wayne Boness said.
And high winds have prompted NZTA to advise motorists
travelling over the Rimutuka Hill Road (SH2) between Upper
Hutt and Featherston to take extra care due to strong and
unpredictable wind gusts.
Winds on the road were gusting between 80 and 100km/h.