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Storm smashes coast

The storm battered the South Wairarapa coast. PHOTOS/JOHN LAZO-RON

But some can’t resist chance to feel the full force
Storm crashes into South Wairarapa coastline

JOHN LAZO-RON and JEREMY LEVERIDGE
[email protected]

Severe gale-force winds, heavy hail showers, and large swells did not stop people from trying to catch a glimpse of a ferocious storm that battered the south and eastern Wairarapa coast on Tuesday.

Lake Ferry and Ngawi were among the many places that bore the brunt of the storm, with gusts reaching speeds of up to 94kmh and swells as high as six metres.

The Wellington Region Emergency Management Office advised people living on Wairarapa’s coast to leave home.

However, it didn’t deter Lake Ferry residents from trying to capture moments of the storm before it peaked in the evening.

It didn’t go all to plan though, with many having to take evasive action when hailstorms hit the Lake Ferry coast just after midday.

Brave visitors ran for cover when it worsened.

People were seen fleeing to their cars from Lake Ferry’s shoreline to evade what one person called “a bruising encounter”.

“I wanted to take a picture of the heavy waves, but then the hail came out of nowhere, and I had to sprint back to my car,” the peson, who did not want to be named, said.

“It was really windy, but the sun was kind of out, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a pic of some of those big waves. But some of those buggers [hailstones] hit me right in my face. Yep, that definitely backfired.”

Martinborough’s Nicola Burt and Olivia Harris said it was the wildest storm they had ever experienced.

The pair rushed to Lake Ferry Hotel to escape the storm after Burt was almost knocked to the ground by the wind.

“It was pretty intense. The waves were pretty intense, but it was wild and wonderful,” Harris said.

Burt said she got caught right in the middle of the heavy wind when she had to step out of her car to remove a boulder that had come to rest in the middle of the road.

“There was a large boulder that had fallen down from a cliff on the road, so I got out to move it.

“But as soon as I got out and threw the boulder off, the wind whipped all my hair in front of my face, spinning me around and almost throwing me to the ground.

“Trying to get back in the car, it felt like the door was going to blow right off.”

Lake Ferry hotel owner Luke Tipoki was surprised by his restaurant’s lunchtime turnout, saying he was initially going to close shop for the day because of the weather.

“I expected to have no one out here today,” he said.

“Me and my wife [Candice] were debating whether to open at all, but we got about 35 people in for lunch today.

Tipoki, who has lived in Lake Ferry for close to 40 years, said the storm was the second strongest he had experienced in the area.

“It was three degrees when I got down here today. I only remember one day colder,” he said.

“I’ve lived down here most of my life. There’s only been one day colder 10 years ago when we had a huge snowfall.

“This is stronger than usual and definitely colder. It’s as cold as you’ll feel down here. You won’t get much of a rougher day than this.”

The advice by WREMO for people affected by the storm to leave their homes was put in place on Tuesday afternoon and lasted through to Wednesday afternoon.

“If your home has been impacted by past swell and storm events or have concerns, arrange accommodation with friends and family,” an update said.

Those who didn’t have anywhere else to go were advised to call their local council for assistance.

Cape Palliser Rd was closed at 6pm Tuesday night. The road was to be inspected yesterday morning.

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