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Rain piles pressure on the roads

Heavy rain has caused trouble across Wairarapa roads, with slips and flooding blocking motorists across all three districts over the weekend.

There were slips on Tora Rd in South Wairarapa and Masterton-Castlepoint Rd in Masterton District over the weekend.

Metservice said that Cyclone Hale, the first South Pacific cyclone of the 2023 season, was set to bring more rain to Wairarapa in the coming days.

A fallen tree briefly blocked Masterton-Castlepoint Rd on Sunday night, but Masterton District Council [MDC] contractors cleared it within a few hours.

There were several other minor slips on Masterton-Castlepoint Rd’s problem areas, which extreme rainfall damaged in 2022.

MDC said after high winter rainfall, several large slips have already eroded and damaged Masterton-Castlepoint Rd in the past year.

Sunday’s rain caused flooding, blocking roads in all three districts, including Coopers Rd and Homewood Rd in Masterton District, Kokotau Bridge in Carterton and White Rock Rd in South Wairarapa.

MDC said a one-way bridge at Cooper’s Rd in Bideford was still flooded yesterday, with contractors on site.

Carterton District Council [CDC] said that at Kokotau Bridge, contractors attended and put-up warning signs, but the flooding was not severe enough to close the road.

White Rock Rd opened yesterday, but South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] still warned motorists to take care when driving through the affected areas of the district because rain forecast for later in the week could cause further risk of slips and flooding.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said drivers should be cautious in the week ahead.

“We’ve had inclement weather here over the weekend, and it looks like we have a few more days of these conditions ahead,” Pauling said.

He said drivers should slow down, search ahead, and not attempt to drive over flooded roads unless they were confident their vehicle could cross.

“I know contractors are still out and about fixing up after Wairarapa’s last weather bomb, and now there are a bunch of new slips.

“We all need to drive to the conditions, and in the worst affected areas, maybe think about whether you need to make the trip because there are a few more days of bad weather predicted.

Pauling said if a driver encountered damaged or flooded roads, they should call their district council; unless it was on a state highway, they should call Waka Kotahi NZTA.

He said that if any road damage was immediately dangerous, drivers should call the police.

Last year, MDC chief executive David Hopman said Masterton-Castlepoint Rd had received “a hammering” over the winter.

A senior Masterton roading engineer said 2022 was the worst winter for roading damage he had seen in 30 years.

At that time, the council approved over $2 million for urgent repair works on seven sites on Masterton-Castlepoint Rd and Blairlogie-Langdale Rd.

Metservice meteorologist Peter Little said Cyclone Hale would likely pass southwards over the central or eastern North Island on Wednesday before moving away from the country.

“There is still some uncertainty regarding the timing and movement of Cyclone Hale, but it will bring a period of heavy rain, gale or severe gale winds and hazardous coastal conditions to parts of the North Island and Marlborough [including Wairarapa] from this [Monday] evening through until Thursday morning,” Little said.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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