Key Points:

  • Multiple portaloos as sewage system inundated with floodwater
  • Wastewater system struggling to cope with demand due to high groundwater levels
  • Children kayaker around school grounds at Opotiki Primary
  • Drivers asked to stop driving on Albert St as the wake from cars inundates houses

Opotiki Primary School students are kayaking in their school field after a night of heavy rain left it a metre deep in water.

The town has been overwhelmed by heavy rainfall over the past two days, leading to mulitple school and road closures. Portaloos have been set up to replace the failing wastewater infrastructure.

And Taking advantage of metre-deep water on the Church St school field, students stripped down to shorts and took a dip while others kayaked across "Lake Opotiki Primary".

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School principal Tony Howe admitted things got "quite close" yesterday afternoon.

"The river were right up there, especially the Otara, which was lapping at the top of the stopbanks," Howe said.

"Some of the rural areas are cut off, which means the kids haven't been able to get into school but, apart from some light rain this morning, it's now overcast and the river levels have dropped right back."

Opotiki's Motu Trails executive officer Jim Robinson said most of the rain was east of the Waioeka catchment.

"I'm expecting the Pakihi Track to have sustained some damage, I'm just hoping it won't be too severe," Robinson said. "On the plus side, when the track gets storm damage, it's typically only about 5km that gets slips and debris, the rest is fairly stable."

He had just received an unconfirmed report the 20m concrete Tutaetoko bridge has been washed out. "If this is the case it will be a serious repair."

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The Opotiki District Council said there was still a lot of "ponding" around the district and it would be a few days before debris was cleared and damage repaired.

"Ponding in low-lying areas of the township is being pumped away so that access can be reopened.

"Caution is advised on all roads but especially rural roads as it will take some time for road crews to get around the district."

The council said wastewater pumps were working and the wastewater system was slowly recovering, but will take time because of the high water levels.

The council asked people to avoid driving through flooded Albert St because
waves created by cars were inundating people's properties."

Mōtū Rd (Waiaua), Tutaetoko Rd, Gault Rd, Pakahi Rd, Otara East Rd, Toones Rd and Waiotahi Valley Rd were closed but
Tirohanga was open.

NZTA said SH2 through the Waioeka Gorge was open but down to one lane in parts. Crews were working to clear the highway.

Portaloos are on the corner of Richard and Nelson Sts, Buchanan and Bridge Sts, Buchanan and Wellington Sts, Peria House, Richard and Windsor Sts, Richard and Buchanan Sts and Kaumatua Flats. The public toilets in the CBD will be open all night.