Southern Wairarapa Dries Out

After several weeks of steady rain and a serious flood event, the southern Wairarapa area is still drying out.

Driving north through the Hutt Valley yesterday, water could clearly be seen steadily running from field drains in roadside embankments at Maymorn. The Rimutaka Hill Road was in remarkably good condition, despite water still flowing over rock faces and in roadside drains after three days of fine weather. The road maintenance crews have done very well at clearing up several slips, and the carriageway was back to two lanes throughout.

The fine, sunny day allowed us to enjoy the dramatic view of the plateau as we began the steep descent into southern Wairarapa.

The extensive flatlands surrounding Featherston, Greytown and Martinborough are still carrying a considerable load of surface water. Elevated areas are still a little boggy and there are several places where water has pooled on farmland with little chance of escape.

Water was still running across State Highway 2 in two places near Tauherenikau necessitating speed restrictions.

The overall impression is that the land is recovering well, but it will take some time for ponded water trapped on farm fields by undulating surroundings to drain away.

Road crews were still working in places, but the main roads are back to near normal, with small areas still receiving attention.

The south-easterly conditions which have dominated New Zealand’s weather patterns for the past 8 weeks or so, have brought heavy snow to southern and eastern parts of the South Island, and dramatically higher rainfall to the southern and eastern North Island, with moderate snowfalls on the ranges. The Dominion Post quoted NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospherics) rainfall figures in it’s Monday edition. Wellington has received 263 mm of rain so far this month, 193% of it’s monthly average. The paper said, “East Taratahi and Martinborough – both in Wairarapa – have had 248 and 214 mm respectively, both more than double the normal rate.”

Wairarapa farmers were out and about yesterday, some still carrying out maintenance on drains, and feeding-out for stock was still apparent. Road repair crews were probably enjoying the opportunity to work at a less frenzied rate and in sunny conditions. Real estate agents were having a quiet day while local pubs and cafes were enjoying steady trade.

A large purpose-built articulated truck carrying huge water tanks was parading around Martinborough’s square as we left in the afternoon. It was a sight which would have lit a drought-stricken farmer’s eyes with desire and, if the present conditions continue, it will not take long for the plastic monsters to be filled to overflowing once installed.

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