Lay of the land

Southern towns came close to, or broke records for, the wettest September day on record on September 20 or 21, including Alexandra, Cromwell, Gore, Lauder, Lumsden, Tautuku, Queenstown, Wānaka and Windsor, Niwa data shows. Last week, Shawn McAvinue asked farmers in the wider districts of those Niwa weather stations how the rainfall impacted their farms.


Mike Smith, of Wakatipu Basin ... "It is the biggest spring rain event we’ve been involved in in the 20 years we’ve been farming here. We were exceptionally dry before it happened, so the moisture was welcome, but the aftermath was not so helpful. All the springs on the hill are running flat out — there’s water popping out of the ground everywhere. The ground has soaked a lot of it up and what didn’t run off is now oozing out of the hill, causing us a bit of grief. It was a hell of a rainfall event. We had to move stock to higher ground because some of our river flats went under water."

Robbie Gibson, of Tarras ... "We got 90mm of rain, after all the wind. It’s unprecedented to get that amount of rain in one hit, particularly where we are. We had just started lambing and we lost a few. We got snow on the second day, but it didn’t settle because it was that wet. It was extremely cold, but it didn’t last long, so we were pretty lucky and the rain has set things up for spring."

Jane Smith, of Five Forks ... "The rain was very welcome in North Otago — conditions were getting pretty dry. Even though North Otago was looking fairly green, we really needed the subsoil to be recharged, so the timing was good, but it was cold, so that was concerning during lambing and calving, but farmers had plenty of warning and are set up with good shelter. The rain will set us up for a good spring."

Ross Paterson, of Waikaka ... "It was during the middle of lambing, so it wasn’t a great time to have rain, but it didn’t come with a heap of wind and the wind chill is what can do the damage. It could have been much worse."

Duncan McRae, of Glendhu Bay ... "It was good for us — we’ve had a dry winter and we needed the moisture. We had 105mm — it was perfect timing because we start lambing this week."

Phil Smith, of Becks ... "We were lucky that we hadn’t got into the full swing of lambing. Other people who were more into it did lose lambs that day, but it was short and sharp. We had about 30mm of rain and then 50mm of snow. It was very wet and I was surprised the snow settled after that much rain. The rain was good timing because we were quite dry — there was moisture underneath, but it was dry on top ... "

Alistair Campbell, of Earnscleugh ... "We weren’t too bad. We were shearing at the time and the rain was warm and didn’t worry the stock at all and we start lambing in October."

Andrew Law, of Castlerock ... "It was a bit of a bugger because we were lambing, but it was only one day and didn’t do too much damage — we got off pretty lightly."

Meree Yorke, of Waikawa ... "I’ve kept rainfall measurements for nearly 60 years. We had 25mm on September 20 and 35mm the next day. We’ve already had more than 200mm this month and it is drizzling today, so we’ve had quite a bit this month, but it’s running off the firm ground and has not seeped down into our peaty soil, so we would like more rain."