James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Happy campers look on bright side

Repeat of rain and mud on the Coromandel unlikely as the boys settle in to 'chill out' in New Year.

Campers enjoy the sunny weather and swim in the Wentworth River, which this time last year was a raging torrent.  Photo / Christine Cornege
Campers enjoy the sunny weather and swim in the Wentworth River, which this time last year was a raging torrent. Photo / Christine Cornege

This time a year ago Dion Bradley and his mates were readying themselves for a big party but instead found themselves stuck in mud as rain pelted down and a nearby river became a raging torrent at a normally tranquil Coromandel campsite.

The 18-year-old apprentice engineer is with a bunch of mates, all from Pukekohe, in Whangamata to avail themselves of the beach and the town's New Year charms.

"We're here just to chill out and get on the piss," he said.

The Herald spoke with them as they were enjoying a few cold beers with their barbecue at the ready.

But a year ago the same group were trapped in their tents at the Wentworth Valley Campground as more than 100mm of rain fell just before the new year. "It was like Woodstock - but without the music and the people," said one of his mates. "There was just mud everywhere."

The driving rain saw the Wentworth River rise suddenly, sweeping a car off a ford at the campground although its two occupants made it to safety.

A local farmer was kept busy helping campers out - and in - by tractor.

"It was just awful," said camp manager Nikki Flannagan.

"There was mud and the rain didn't stop, people wanted to move in to our house but it was unbelievable how many people actually had a lot of fun. There was one family that didn't stop smiling, I think they were Mormons."

Metservice duty forecaster Larissa Marintchenko said a repeat of the unseasonal weather that blasted the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty last year was unlikely and New Year's revellers and beachgoers were in for warm and settled weather.

Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and central North Island could expect possible early morning showers but the afternoon would see westerly breezes and fine conditions with temperatures hovering between 23C and 25C. The fine weather will last until tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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