Heavy rain batters Coromandel, Whitianga cut off by flooding and slips on highway

Heavy rain has caused major flooding and slips across the Coromandel Peninsula, closing roads and cutting access to Whitianga.

The Coromandel was the epicentre of the North Island’s bad weather on Thursday, with more heavy rain forecast to batter the area on Friday.

A heavy rain warning is in place as a subtropical storm sweeps through. People have been warned to either head home or be prepared to shelter in place until Sunday.

Water has been flowing over the bridge at Hikuai on the road to Pauanui, while holidaymakers have left some camping grounds in Northland and Coromandel Peninsula.

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There are a number of road closures on the Coromandel Pensinsula.

Waka Kotahi advised that State Highway 25, between Wade Rd in Whitianga and 309 Rd in Kaimarama, would remain closed overnight due to flooding.

Samantha Skelton, who has a bach at Pauanui, said the strength of the wind that had been more unusual.

There was flooding on the road into Pauanui, where there was often flooding across low-lying farmland. “If you have a bach here, you understand there is a chance you could get stuck.”

When she was driving back towards Pauanui after an errand on Wednesday, there were long lines of traffic leaving ahead of the storm.

“The volume of traffic coming out with boats and caravans and trailers. It was a constant stream leaving.”

Popular tourist spot closed

Cathedral Cove has been closed to visitors due to the subtropical storm battering the Coromandel, and physical barriers will be in place on Friday.

The need for a rock face assessment following the 5.1M Te Aroha earthquake on Wednesday and bad weather contributed to the decision.

DOC operations manager Nicky Kelly saying they are “strongly discouraging people from visiting” due to the weather.

Kelly said he expected Cathedral Cove to remain off limits until at least late Saturday afternoon.

Heavy rain from Northland to Bay of Plenty

A number of ferry sailings around Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour were delayed or replaced by taxis due to the weather conditions on Thursday, according to Auckland Transport.

MetService recorded 12.6mm of rain by 7.30am and had forecast a total of 62mm to fall throughout the day in Auckland.

“While in Northland the worst of the rain has now eased, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Plenty are in line for a lot more wet weather in the coming days,” MetService’s Jessie Owen said.

“A further 140 to 200 mm of rain is expected in the Coromandel, and 180 to 240 mm for parts of the Bay of Plenty.

“A brief reprieve in the severe weather will come towards the end of the weekend, but for those wondering when summer is returning, you’ll have to wait a little longer,” Owen said.

Many people packed up and left Cooks Beach as rain poured down on the campsite.

Rachael Tucker/Supplied

Many people packed up and left Cooks Beach as rain poured down on the campsite.

A large high pressure system parked to the east of the Chatham Islands is blocking the low from making much progress across the country, resulting in a prolonged period of rain for New Zealanders, Owen said.

Heavy rain warnings were also in effect in the South Island, for Tasman northwest of Motueka until 11am Friday and the ranges of Westland south of Otira until 4am Friday.

Hayes said the rain was set to continue into the weekend and a cold front would move its way up the country from the south over the next couple of days.

The nice weather over Christmas was to blame, he said, with high pressure system sitting off to the east of the country and not moving, preventing the bad weather from moving off.


Latest MetService Severe Weather Warnings Video.

Holiday and festival plans thrown into disarray

On Wednesday, the Thames-Coromandel District Council told locals and visitors to “err on the side of caution” and seek safety in a secure location – or even head home.

“The accumulation of rain by Saturday could see surface flooding, slips, road closures and power issues, so it is worth hatching a plan today to ensure no-one is stuck or isolated,” Thames-Coromandel Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler said earlier.

Stuff understands many people packed up and left Cooks Beach as rain poured down on the Coromandel campsite. Meanwhile, in Northland, Whangaruru Beachfront Camp and Motel owner Robynne Cooper on Wednesday said “hardly anyone is left” after strong winds and rain hit the campsite.

Others have found themselves out of pocket due to the weather too. A Coromandel tour operator has had to cancel hundreds of summer bookings due to the weather warnings, and two Wellington siblings are $1000 down after a festival was cancelled less than 24 hours from kick-off.

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