PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
Gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

After months of drought, heavy rain on Friday and overnight might have a few farmers “dancing around in their undies”, Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said.

MetService issued a heavy rain warning for Wairarapa and Tararua from 8pm Friday night and 10am Saturday morning, with from 70mm to 90mm of rain expected to fall in that period.

Beetham said the rain was “desperately needed” and would make a difference for hard-hit farmers.

“I think it’s really good we’ve got this travel ban on because there could be a few farmers dancing around in their undies out there,” he said.

“This will be great for recharging dams and all those things we desperately need.”

His biggest concern about the heavy rainfall was the potential for soil erosion.

“The biggest issue is extremely dry ground with cracks and erosion.

“The advantage is that with no water, everything is running off into dried out waterways or dams.

“We hope that will slow the waterways down and they won’t get too full, flood and cause damage.”

He said it was important for farmers to monitor the weather in coming days and understand how to manage recovery.

Not all are as happy about the rain, with some disruptions to the grape harvest.

Helen Masters, head winemaker at Ata Rangi vineyard in Martinborough, said it was something the team would “just have to work around”, though they were nearly at the end of their harvest period.

Matahiwi Estate owner Alastair Scott said they were “lucky” and that the wet weather wouldn’t impact them too severely.

“It’s not really going to impact us too much,” he said.

“The vines are almost dormant, and they’ll soak up a bit of rain.”

They had already started harvesting their white wine varieties but were leaving the pinot noir grapes a little longer.

“We are not going to rush to get it in. It’s looking good after this rainfall.”

He said it had been a great growing season.

MetService meteorologist Tui McInnes said it would be quite a wet period for the region.

“There’s a front moving over the country that’s associated with the low moving off our west coast.

“The front goes away and circles back to the south.

“It could stay through later [Saturday and Sunday]. There’s still the potential for showers on Monday.”

He said peak intensities of 20mm to 30mm were expected to fall on Saturday morning.

McInnes warned this could have “quite major effects”, with some streams and rivers expected to rise rapidly.

Surface flooding and slips were also a possibility, with some flooding on the eastern side of Masterton on Friday and out along Te Whiti Rd.

A particularly heavy downpour had 23.2mm of rain fall in Masterton and 3mm in both Martinborough and Castlepoint on Friday afternoon at about 1pm.

Thunderstorms were also forecast and McInnes urged people to take care on the roads.