Storm damage closes popular walkway

By Michele McPherson

Tauranga's vulnerable harbourside walkway at Matua is once again closed after being hit by Sunday's combined assault of a two-metre tide, strong northerlies and drenching rain.
Residents say the storm caused thousands of dollars of damage to the popular path which runs from Shaw Park, Matua, to the small reserve at the bottom of Otumoetai Rd.
Huge chunks of the walkway have disappeared, leaving deep washouts, while planks retaining the path were "tossed like matchwood" against the adjoining fence.
Residents also reported that the gouging has left the roots of mature pohutukawa trees exposed to the incoming tide, below the Otumoetai Pa Reserve in Levers Rd. Council communications advisor Marcel Currin said the damage was so severe that he did not know when the walkway would reopen.
Elsewhere along the Matua and Bureta's harbour frontage, patches of foreshore were scoured below Beach Rd and Harbour Drive.
Sunday's storm also damaged a footbridge on the Takitimu Drive side of the Waikareao Estuary, closing the section of walkway for up to two weeks between Waihi Rd and Takitimu Drive's first overbridge.
The TECT All-Terrain Park is closed until tomorrow after it was lashed by gale-force winds and pounded by a "phenomenal" 558mm of rain between noon and midnight on Sunday.
Park manager Ric Balfour said the ground got so soft that the wind rotated a radio repeater pole at the top of the park. "I guess we should have had guy ropes on each corner."
Park roads were washed out but passable while tracks were largely intact.
Yesterday's king tide pushed by northerlies saw the sea wash completely over the Matua walkway and on to the historic paddock owned by Des Ferrow.

It also washed over Fergusson Park's boat ramp.
The big tides swamped six of Silver Birch Holiday Park's low-lying camp sites on Turret Rd, with campers getting plenty of advance notice to shift their belongings.
And residents living above Waikareao Estuary had the rare sight of the estuary margins becoming almost completely swamped at high tide on Sunday.
Big tides and blow back up an already high Waimapu Stream impacted on the Roxanne Place industrial area at Poike, with ponding up to the corner of the street.
Meanwhile, a Greerton firefighter has been reunited with his kayak after losing it during a run down a wild Ngaumuwahine River on Sunday. Vincent Venimore found his kayak down-river near the Ruahihi power station and despite "a few dings" in it, took it for another ride down the river last night.
Sunnier, drier and calmer weather is set to return to the Bay of Plenty over the next few days, with lower humidity coupled with light winds making for pleasant outdoor weather.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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