Cyclone Gabrielle: Monster swells erode Whitianga coastline, waves flood beachfront properties

Monster swells in Whitianga have caused widespread erosion, with waves toppling over the shore and onto roads, flooding properties. 

There are concerns the next high tide in the early hours of the morning will inundate more properties and cause more damage. 

The beachfront Bailey's at the Beach Motel is now flooded.

"This is our whole life here. We live here we work here. I don't know. I don't know what we are going to do," said owner Brad Adams.

Locals heeded a social media SOS from the owners of the motel and brought in more sandbags. A surge every 10-15 minutes will come through.

Down the road at Brophey's Beach, severe coastal inundation closed roads and led to commuter chaos.

"We just had to push them out of the flood waters, which was about knee-deep, I suppose, waist-deep. Pretty crazy," said rescuer Eamon Kelly.

Cyclone Gabrielle: Monster swells erode Whitianga coastline, waves flood beachfront properties
Photo credit: Newshub.

Every effort was made to protect one home from coastal erosion. Its neighbour, the iconic Mercury Bay Boating Club, had already been moved back 28 metres during last month's severe weather. But the buffer zone is being eroded with every wave. 

"During last night's high tide cycle, which was around 12:30am to 1am, we lost 1m to 1.5m in that high tide cycle and I think we've lost at least that much now during this high tide cycle," said Mercury Bay Boating Club commodore Jonathan Kline.

The severe weather and gale-force winds knocked out power to 7000 properties around Thames-Coromandel. Powerco said it will take time for power to be restored.

"As we've come through and head into tonight, things are taking a bit of a turn," said Thames-Coromandel Civil Defence controller Garry Towler. "We are getting multiple power outages. The entire roading network is becoming compromised. There's lots of slips."

There are concerns for the already ravaged section of State Highway 25A from Kopu to Hikuai. It's a critical route that's one of many closed or compromised in the region.

"We have about 150 crew on, or the calvary, as I like to call them, have arrived to help us out and they are strategically placed around the Coromandel, with a big contingent in Whitianga to respond," Towler said.

The Army and other members of the New Zealand Defence Force were also busy placing sandbags to protect a retirement village.

"The boys have been working extremely hard. They are quite motivated. This is ultimately what we signed up to do, so we are glad to be here," said Sergeant Lanka Gee from the New Zealand Army.