Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Weather chaos: tourists stranded on West Coast for days

Weather chaos: tourists stranded on West Coast for days

Nearly 1000 tourists are stranded in Franz Josef and they could remain there until Friday, while in Timaru District the council says it could take weeks to recover from flood damage.

a long flat bridge
over a river with a slab of the road part missing

A washed out bridge near Mt Hercules on SH6 on the West Coast. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Townships on the West Coast including Franz Josef and Fox are cut off as washouts and slips blocked State Highway 6, and on the other side of the South Island the flood-damaged Rangitata Bridge on SH1 and the bridge at Arundel on SH72 are closed.

Timaru District Council duty controller Justin Bagust said road crews had been working through the night and the bridges will being inspected this morning to check when they may be able to reopen.

"It's the second largest time that we've ever had this much water come down the Rangitata in 40 years, so there is as much water in the river as there is out of the river, so quite extensive break-outs and flooding alongside of that south branch."

flooding from a
river extending over a section of road and fields

The Rangitata River yesterday. Photo: Facebook / Timaru District Council

The council is expected to give an update about 8am.

Timaru District remains under a state of emergency which will not be lifted until at least one of the bridges reopens.

Franz Josef tourists stuck until at least Friday

a group of people
walking outside a 'scenic flights' storefront, with a
helicopter overhead

The earliest most of the 970 tourists trapped in Franz Josef are getting out is Friday. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Slips and wash-outs south and north of Franz Josef mean the only way in or out is by helicopter.

Forty-four dairy farms just north of Franz Josef at Whataroa are also cut off and will start dumping milk today because no tankers have been able to get through since Friday.

Civil defence co-ordinator in Franz Josef, Wayne Costello, said the best hope of reconnecting Whataroa and Franz Josef with the rest of the country is to repair the road to the south, something road crews are hoping to get done by Friday.

In the meantime he said it was a case of flying in enough food for those who are trapped in the town.

Meanwhile, a portion of a slip hit West Coast highway could be reopened after authorities assess it this morning.

State Highway 6 from Hokitika to Franz Josef has been closed since Saturday, following a large slip at Mount Hercules south of Harihari.

Westland District Council Emergency Control Centre spokesperson Kim Hibbs said SH6 between Hokitika and Harihari may reopen after it is reassessed.

But further south, the highway from Harihari and Mount Hercules is likely to be closed until at least Friday, Ms Hibbs said.

She said contractors have had better luck assessing the road north of Harihari, and as a result have no updates on the situation at Mount Hercules itself which is south of the town.

Meanwhile a generator is due to arrive in Fox Glacier by midday today where power has been out since Saturday.

A convoy of about 400 tourists was led out of the town yesterday.

Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare and the Director of Civil Defence Sarah Black-Stuart will be on the West Coast today assessing the impact of the slips.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is supporting foreign tourists stranded by the slips.

In the North Island, Hayward's Hill Road (SH5) in Wellington is open again after flooding cleared.

Weather clearing but wet weekend ahead

NIWA meteorologist Chris Brandolino told Morning Report the Indian Ocean Dipole (or the Indian Niño) had been an influence for stronger westerly flows through the West Coast.

Well over a metre of rain has fallen over the region in the past eight days, he said.

"Even the lower elevations, Milford Sound [there's been] 608mm of rain ... they normally get 700 in the entire month of December. When you're getting 80 or 90 percent of your monthly rainfall in seven or eight days, that causes problems."

While skies are beginning to clear over Timaru today, more active weather could be expected again towards the end of the week and most likely the weekend, potentially with heavy rain, and across the upper South Island.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-Opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Media Collusion With National’s Attack Lines

For most of the past week, any consumer of this country’s management of Covid-19 would think New Zealand was actually Brazil, or Texas. The media language has been full of claims of “botches” at the border, and laxness and inexcusable errors ... More>>

Gregor Thompson: Don’t Be Too Pessimistic About New Zealand’s Future.

With the first hurdle hopped our Government will be turning its attention to trying to soften the economic damage this pandemic has on our little archipelago. More>>

Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>