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Slips and floods leave motorists stranded

Heavy rain in the Coromandel yesterday left dozens of motorists frustrated by slips and road closures but the worst of the bad weather is over.

Emergency services on the Coromandel Peninsula had few callouts despite a deluge that brought up to 200mm of rain to parts of the region and forced several roads to close.

Flooding blocked State Highway 25 at Opoutere, where forestry logs and debris washed down from the hills, while Hot Water Beach Rd and SH25 between Thames and Coromandel township and from Whitianga to Coromandel township were also closed.

Also out of action was the Hikuai Settlement Rd, south of Tairua, where by midday yesterday a line of nearly 40 cars, campervans and trucks stretched along the side of the road.

Two hours later that number had nearly doubled, with some waiting more than five hours before the road was eventually opened to a single lane by mid-afternoon.

Among them were a Brisbane couple, originally from Papakura, who said they had been told by Waihi police and then the Whangamata information centre that SH25 was open.

“We got here and there’s this line of cars and we are told that it could be a few more hours,” said the man, who asked not to be named. “It’s just frustrating that no one seems to know what is going on.”

Also in the queue were English couple Jeff Baker and Amy Pepper, who were not too bothered by the wait, instead enjoying a cup of tea and sandwiches.

The couple from Kent are to return to England tomorrow but were on their way to Hot Water Beach in a campervan and hoped that the road, impassable early yesterday, would be open.

Dairy farmer Brian Tanner said Hikuai was prone to bad weather and on average would see up to five orsix closures each year because of flooding. More than 150mm of rainfell on his farm between Monday evening and 9am yesterday.

“This isn’t an abnormal event, we have a high tide and lots of rain and when it comes down the hills like that we know what we are in for,” Mr Tanner said.

Thames Coromandel District Council spokesman Andrew Mehrtens said surface flooding in the area could have been the result of a combination of the king tide and heavy rain.

Whitianga had 149mm of rain between 5pm on Monday and 5pm yesterday. The average for March for the town is 135mm.

Fire Service northern communications shift manager Steve Smith said firefighters were called out when two trees came down in South Auckland and one in Parnell overnight.

Mr Smith said no one was hurt but the tree in Otara also brought down phone lines.

Further south, part of State Highway 35 was closed for four hours because of flooding. The road north of Gisborne was monitored by New Zealand Transport Agency staff who gave it the all-clear yesterday afternoon.

– By James Ihaka and Edward Gay, NZ Herald

– Homepage Image / Andrea Coker


Guest - Sue on 22/03/2011 11:13pm

We live in Pauanui and I just wanted to say that Hikuai Settlement Road is an access road from State Highway 25 to Pauanui only and we were flooded in yesterday. State Highway 25 was also flooded south of Tairua. This occurs when the heavy rain in the ranges floods the river and then when we have a high tide at the same time the river breaches its banks over both roads and the surrounding dairy farms. When the tide goes out the water recedes again and the road becomes passable.

Living in Pauanui for the past 8 years this is a regular occurrence as Brian Tanner said and if you are want to leave the Coromandel Peninsula going south through Tairua on State Highway 25 it is a good idea to be mindful of the tides and time your departure if it that important!

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