The last of the guests at Blue Duck Station in the Retaruke Valley are to be taken out by helicopter today, owner Dan Steele says.

The tourist destination at Whakahoro on the Whanganui River had 120 guests on Wednesday night. Eleven were evacuated by helicopter on Thursday and the remaining 109 are to leave today.

There will be five commercial helicopters operating to evacuate them, starting at 1.30pm. They will be taken to National Park School.

The guests were young people on a Stray New Zealand bus, who were trying to help out.


There were also cyclists on Tour Aotearoa, and 21 canoeists about to begin a trip on the Whanganui River. All their canoes were washed away, as well as the canoes belonging to the station.

Everyone was safe and in good spirits, Steele said.

He expected the road to the station to be open for 4WD traffic by tonight. It would need to be inspected because it had cracks right across it and bridges washed out.

The station recorded 230mm of rain over a short period. It was a local downpour, affecting mainly the station and few neighbours.

Video taken from a helicopter on Thursday revealed hundreds of slips, both on pasture and some in the bush too.


Posted by Blue Duck Station on Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Steele has some farm worries as well - stock stranded by slips that will need food taken to them. He was due to put rams out with the ewes, and may have to helicopter them too.

"Otherwise it will affect next year's income. There's going to be quite a blow to the business, there's no question."

He said he would look for a silver lining to the event.

"We will make the farm more resilient.

"We always knew some of our country should never have been broken in. We are revegetating it, but we can't work fast enough sometimes."