'It's a disaster': West Coast locals disgusted as storm pulls landfill rubbish along 100km of pristine coast

Okarito residents are disgusted as decades of old rubbish has turned their once pristine West Coast beach into a tip.

The historic Fox Landfill ripped open in last week's storm, washing rubbish out to sea. It's left landfill waste strewn across 100 kilometres of the West Coast beach.

The storm that hit the region eroded away the closed and capped landfill site near Fox Glacier. 

The Waiho River Bridge crumbled in the torrential downpour, and Westland saw widespread flooding throughout the region as rainfall reached levels not seen in decades. A woman was killed after she was swept away by flood waters in the Arahura Valley north of Hokitika.

A State of Emergency was lifted on Friday morning.

Latham Martin, Deputy Mayor of the Westland District Council, told Newshub: "It's taken 20 metres of the bank away and broken and exposed some of the historic waste that was buried."

Old pieces of rubbish - mostly plastic - are now drifting out to sea.

"It's a disaster, it's a total disaster - on Friday I was down at the Waiho [River] and the whole way you just see footprints of penguins going through rubbish.

"There's little tiny bits of micro-plastics everywhere, as well as the big stuff. There's risk for entanglement and ingestment," Martin said.

Okarito residents are disgusted with what has washed up on their pristine beach, and the council is working on an urgent plan.

"It's really important that we get the historic landfill that's been breached capped again as soon as possible. There are contractors on site doing that currently," Martin said

The clean-up is being carried out by the community. Groups are being organised over social media to get stuck in.

Mike Bilodeau, who is involved in the clean-up said: "We're trying to get volunteers in place and come up with a game plan to get down there to pick up the rubbish, and we also need to stop the flow of it coming out of the landfill."

Every effort is being made to clean up their own slice of paradise.