The Clutha River spills into a picnic area on Hasborough Pl, Balclutha, yesterday. Photo by Helena de Reus.
Otago Regional Council flood managers are continuing to
closely monitor river and lake levels in Otago, as more rain
is expected in the western ranges.
Lake Wakatipu stabilised at 311.14m above sea level, 30cm
above its ''active high level'', while Lake Wanaka reached
279.3m yesterday afternoon, just under its high level. Both
lakes were expected to remain high for several days, the
council said. The Clutha River at Balclutha peaked at
1630cumecs - 490cumecs above its first flood warning level -
and started to recede yesterday, while the level of the
Waitaki River looks set to remain above two and a-half times
its normal flow for another week, after a metre of rain fell
in the Waitaki catchment in the past two weeks.
Queenstown Lakes district harbourmaster Marty Black said the
Clutha River posed the biggest risk to water-users in the
''It's quite horrendous,'' he said.
''It's pushing in among trees - it's not good. The risk is
certainly there. The river normally flows at 200 [cumecs] or
less and it's at over 700.''
He warned people to stay off the river, particularly the
''With the lake rough, it's [Clutha] probably going to get
quite a lot of use this weekend with tubers and kayakers and
especially novices that don't know the risk.''
Few boat users ventured out on the lake yesterday, and Mr
Black advised those planning to today to be ''extremely
cautious'', given the debris washing into the lake from the
Lakeland Adventures, which runs cruises on Lake Wanaka, the
Clutha River Jet and other water activities, was completely
shut down, owner Simon Stewart said.
''We have taken our hire equipment from the building and now
can't get under the Log Cabin as the waves have heaped the
gravel up against the doors,'' Mr Stewart said.
''There is 400mm of water under the building and plenty of
wood and debris. We will not hire a digger to clear it yet as
we may get a repeat of the foul weather.''
Contact Energy hydro generation manager Graham Quinn said the
Clyde and Roxburgh dams would probably spill water for
It was fortunate the level of Lake Roxburgh had been lowered
several days ago, to flush sediment downstream, as that
reduced the impact of the flooding upstream after the recent
heavy rain, he said.
Central Otago sub-area police commander Senior Sergeant Ian
Kerrisk said Alexandra police were contacted late on Thursday
night by friends of people freedom camping near the Clutha
River at Earnscleugh. The friends had been unable to contact
the campers and were concerned as the access to the makeshift
camp site was flooded.
Snr Sgt Kerrisk said a jet-boat was launched and the campers,
who had moved to higher ground, were found safe and well.
The Clutha district emerged relatively unscathed from the
heavy rain and rising water levels.
The Clutha River at Balclutha peaked at 1630cumecs yesterday
afternoon, and was receding.
Clutha District Council communications co-ordinator Jamie
Shaw said the district seemed to have avoided flooding,
despite the Clutha and Pomahaka running high.
The council removed the Tuapeka ferry from the river on
Thursday, because of the high river flows, and would review
the situation next week.
The Waitaki River normally runs between 200 and 400cumecs at
this time of year, but rain and continued spills from Waitaki
hydro dams meant it was running at 1100cumecs yesterday.
River users were warned by Environment Canterbury that the
flow could increase to 1300cumecs over the weekend and would
remain at that level all next week.
ECan Timaru duty flood controller Chris Fauth said at this
stage there had been no problems with overflow on the