Coromandel businesses call for future-proofing after storm damage

Businesses on the Thames coast road are calling for improved sea defences, after the main state highway was washed out by last week's storm. 

Major repairs are underway, following extensive damage to State Highway 25 at Te Puru and widespread flooding in Kaiāua.

Four days on, the weather has vastly improved, but the effects of last week's storm are evident.

The sea has gouged out large chunks of the road and crews have been working from dawn to dusk to make repairs.

The road is now partially open, but people are only allowed through in a single-file convoy - and that means delays.

Business owners are suffering during peak tourism season and they want assurances the same thing won't happen again.

"The sea wall is completely gone, all the vegetation is gone," says Waiomu Beach Café owner Julie McMillan.

"The change to the coast is phenomenal. Future-proofing, what happens the next time there's a king tide, next time there's going to be a storm? 

"There's absolutely no protection whatsoever."

One suggestion is a strengthened sea wall along the Thames highway. 

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi came to see the damage on Tuesday, but couldn't make any promises.

"The road is obviously an issue, and I'll take back what we're hearing and what we're seeing to my colleagues. I think the locals have concerns about the road - that's not my area, but long term, there has to be a discussion about it."

The NZ Transport Agency expects to fully reopen the road on Wednesday, but it knows that's a short-term solution.

Parekawhia McLean from NZTA says they're "making sure that we future-proof the road and that we invest in it". 

"This is something that's been a concern for us, but we are very focused on dealing with that." 

On the other side of the Firth of Thames, in Kaiāua, the clean-up continues. Skips are being piled with rubbish, as people clear their flooded homes.

The downstairs of Bonnie Campbell's home has been completely gutted.

"They've pulled the carpet up and taken out all the walls right through," she says. "Now I've got to wait on the electricians and the plumbers."

The local dairy is looking better, but it'll still be another four days before it can reopen. The owners haven't even started to count the cost, but "hopefully insurance will help".

A disaster relief fund has been activated, as locals work together to recover their slice of paradise.