Residents around Lakes Wanaka and Wakatipu
appear to have survived heavy rain over the past two days unscathed
but with peak levels now due around noon today, the threat of minor
The Otago Regional Council said yesterday the Makarora rain
gauge recorded 176mm of rain in 24 hours, the Upper
Matukituki, which feeds Lake Wanaka, recorded 270mm and the
Dart River catchment, feeding Lake Wakatipu, received 151mm.
River and lake levels continue to rise in the Wakatipu,
Wanaka and Hawea lakes catchments, and lakes Wakatipu and
Wanaka are expected to peak late this afternoon or early this
Lake Wakatipu had reached 311.12m this morning and is
expected to peak at 311.2m, while Lake Wanaka had reached
279.3m and is expected to reach 279.4m.
The ORC said although the rising waters were ''not going to
flood townships'', localised flooding of low-lying areas of
the lakefront was possible in both locations.
Queenstown Lakes harbourmaster Marty Black said the owners of
Lake Wanaka's marina had recommended boat owners remove their
craft yesterday, and boaties were being advised to keep off
the lakes due to floating debris. Glendhu Bay Lakeside
Holiday Park co-manager Keith Waddell said despite some
flooding in the lower parts of the camping ground, no campers
had been caught out by the rising waters. Several tents
pitched near the lake had been moved to other sites yesterday
We saw it coming and didn't put people in the areas where it
does flood sometimes,'' Mr Waddell said.
Queenstown Lakes District Holiday Parks general manager Greg
Hartshorne said the four campsites in Queenstown, Arrowtown
and Wanaka had 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 camp was not quite as badly affected. It
catered for a lot of international visitors, who could not
easily change their plans, he said.
Tourism operators on Lake Wakatipu were open yesterday, but
those operating on rivers were closed. Shotover Jet marketing
manager Nigel Kerr said boats had been off the water since
noon on Wednesday because of high water levels.
Mr Kerr said although the Shotover River had dropped, he was
unsure when jet-boat rides would resume.
''Who knows; we could be off for a wee while yet.''
Yesterday morning, the beach at the Shotover River near the
Shotover Jet depot was ''completely submerged''.
Dart River Safaris and Queenstown Rafting also suspended
• Crowds of spectators gathered at the Clyde Dam lookout
yesterday, marvelling as more than three times the usual flow
surged through or over the structure, creating a giant wall
of water. The spectacular display attracted a steady stream
of holiday-makers and locals. Contact Energy hydro-generation
manager Graham Quinn said the flow was unusual, ''probably a
one-in-five-years scenario'', as 1600cumecs went through or
over the dam, with about 1300cumecs of that going over the
spillways, compared with an average flow of 490cumecs.''
That means the flow is over three times what usually goes
down the [Clutha] river.''
Downstream, a similar volume of water was going through and
over the Roxburgh Dam.
Mr Quinn said the exceptionally high river flow meant
''flushing'' of Lake Roxburgh, to remove sediment, would
continue for several more days. Flushing was carried out to
lower the risk of flooding in Alexandra and could be done
only when flows were high.
Clutha River flows at Balclutha are expected to peak at about
1700cumecs by late afternoon. Flows were 1470 cumecs below
the Roxburgh dam this morning.
Clutha District Council communications officer Jamie Shaw
said yesterday the Pomahaka and Clutha river levels were up
and were being monitored.
Operation of the historic Tuapeka punt, between Clydevale and
Beaumont, had been suspended. The decision is to be reviewed
• Tourists trying to get to the West Coast glaciers had their
patience tested again yesterday. Torrential rain along State
Highway 6, the only road link between the Lakes District and
the West Coast, caused flooding and slips in more than half a
One slip, at Pivot Creek, 10km north of Haast Pass, left
gravel a metre deep across the highway for about 50m.
West Coast road crews made their way across that slip
yesterday to reach other slips, including one just below the
Gates of Haast bridge.
New Zealand Transport Agency acting southern region director
Ian Duncan said contractors were on site from early
yesterday, clearing the slips and repairing three washouts on
the highway just north of Makarora.
A blocked culvert serving an unnamed stream became blocked
late yesterday, causing the road to flood, and there were two
further washouts, at Pipson Creek and Boggy Creek.
Despite an electronic message board at Wanaka warning
travellers Haast Pass was closed, about 100 tourists chose to
drive as far as a roadblock at Makarora.
One family, from Sydney, had driven from Christchurch to
Hokitika just over a week ago intent on seeing the Fox and
Franz Josef glaciers.
Tim Hamilton said their way was blocked by the washed-out
Wanganui Bridge at Harihari, so they decided to take the long
detour down the east coast and approach the glaciers from the
south. They were at the Makarora roadblock in time for lunch
yesterday. The road reopened late yesterday but closed again
at 9pm. It was due to reopen at 6am today.
• In parts of Westland, 400mm of rain fell in 48 hours.
The Department of Conservation has already shut one West
Coast track and others are strewn with boulders after recent
storms. The Roberts Point Track, above Franz Josef Glacier,
is closed due to a washout.
Staff plan to check tracks in the Wanganui and Whataroa
valleys today. Parts of the St James Walkway are badly
damaged. Large slips wiped out the track in the vicinity of
the Cannibal Gorge Hut, and the side streams between Cannibal
Gorge and the road end are badly scoured, making access
difficult. A bridge 20 minutes below the hut is badly damaged
but passable, and the Billy Goat bridge below Ada Pass Hut is
covered in boulders.
- Additional reporting APNZ, Greymouth Star