Weather: Coromandel residents urged to move away from unstable ground as forecast heavy rain threatens area

By Krystal Gibbens for RNZ

A warning alert has gone out to Coromandel Peninsula residents, asking them to prepare of the next bout of weather, and to move away from unstable land.

Thames Coromandel Civil Defence controller Garry Towler said people throughout the region should prepare for the next bout of bad weather.

The regional council issued a red warning ahead of forecast heavy rain which could add more woes to the already damage-stricken and sodden area.

"The regional council have serious concern that the land stability - that the land around the Coromandel [Peninsula] could be compromised due to sheer saturation," Towler said.

"That means that [anyone who] lives on a hilly section needs to keep an eye out - are there any cracks and that sort of thing? Because there is evidence that's starting to occur."

Waka Kotahi warned people not to travel in the area unless absolutely necessary, due to the state of the roads.

More heavy rain was expected from midnight Tuesday 31 January until 6pm Wednesday 1 February, the Thames Coromandel District Council said.

Those in Matatoki and Matarangi were being urged to conserve water because there had been a heavy sediment load in the water supply because of the storm.

While people in Tairua, Pāuanui, Whangamatā and Onemana were also asked to use water carefully to ensure the supply continued.

Coromandel Peninsula businesses brace

Businesses in the area faced uncertainty as more wet weather was set to hit the area ahead of Waitangi Day.

It comes after the region was cut off from road access in and out during Auckland Anniversary weekend - a normally busy time for coastal holiday towns - due to damage on roads and highways from days of significant rainfall volumes.

Tairua Campground manager Charlie Czepanski said there had been "100 percent cancellations just about", during the long weekend.

Anchor Lodge manager, in Coromandel town, Sue Gill-Devereux said whether Waitangi weekend would be more profitable remained to be seen.

The town relied on the summer period for income, so the wet summer season would have a huge impact on businesses, she said.

By Monday afternoon, some roads in the region had been reopened, and the region was no longer cut off, but UMU cafe's Josie Fraser remained cautious.

"Unfortunately our roads up here, they tend to continue slipping even if it's not raining.

"So the water builds up, and because it's a clay over rock, the clay will suddenly subside - and generally it continues to slip for at least three days after rain," she said.

Meanwhile, the area's two main arteries to drive across the peninsula, State Highway 25A between Kopu and Hikuai, and State Highway 25 between Coromandel town and Whitianga, were closed due to slips and further cracks at a large washout.

With only three roads across the peninsula - and only one left open - being cut off again was a real concern for residents.

Many local roads were also affected, with details being updated on the district council's website here.

Czepanski said if all three highways were closed the only options left were air and sea access.

But Fraser said those options were limited too and the only option left was access by helicopter, which was weather dependent.

"We used to have ferry service [between Coromandel and Auckland], unfortunately Fullers pulled that this summer.

"That would have been an alternate route for people to get out," and people were really missing the service, Fraser said.