Chris Hipkins says Thames-Coromandel region will have 'future of road cones' following devasting weather events

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins got a first-hand look at the devastation caused by storms and a cyclone in Coromandel on Thursday.

And while Hipkins promised to find a solution for the region's crumbling infrastructure, he stopped short of saying when that might happen.

The scale of the damage is hard to believe even when you see it. 

When one person said "she's a pretty big job, Prime Minister" while looking at some damage on Tapu Coroglen Road, Hipkins said, "That's a bit of an understatement."

The still-moving ground and loose rock are also an added challenge to the repair work that is needed.

Tapu Coroglen Road is a main arterial road that is used frequently by supermarket suppliers, but it's still six to 12 months from being fixed. 

And it's not the only arterial route that's closed in the region. SH25A between Kopu and Hikuai and State highway 25 from Hikuai to Oputere are closed due to washout.

Coromandel-Thames Mayor Len Salt impressed on the Prime Minister with what lies ahead.

"We're nervous about the potential for more rain events," Salt said.

Salt has a valid reason to be nervous because the first storm lifted the road on Kopu Hikuai, the next event washed part of it away and by the time Cyclone Gabrielle rolled in, the road didn't exist. 

"We've got maybe 150 slips on the roading networks that have been compromised and not a single one has been fully repaired," Thames-Coromandel Civil Defence controller Garry Towler told Newshub.

Hipkins said: "I think the reality is the work has got to take as long as it takes. We have to accept a future of road cones ahead of us."

He also said the Government is building a framework on how to rebuild and not just in the Thames-Coromandel region.

"We have to take a principled approach to how we do this and the same principle needs to apply across the country, even if the effects of the weather are different in different parts," Hipkins said.

Because while parts of the Coromandel still look like a bomb site, so do parts of Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Auckland and Northland, to name a few.