Almost all campers have abandoned their summer beachside holiday at a Far North campground as strong winds start damaging tents ahead of a subtropical blast hitting the top of the country.
The Summer Haze Matakana concert tomorrow has also been disrupted with concerns for the safety of organisers and concertgoers amid warnings from Civil Defence and MetService.
Whangaruru Beachfront Camp and Motel owner Robynne Cooper says she’s witnessed a heartbreaking exodus of campers over the past 24 hours, her packed campsite going from total occupancy to just a handful of hardy campers ahead of a forecast 10 days of bad weather.
Northland is under a heavy rain warning from 1am tomorrow while Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Nelson are under heavy rain watches.
A strong wind watch has also been issued for Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Great Barrier Island, Northland, Taihape, Taranaki, Taumarunui, Taupo, Waikato and Waitomo. Gales of up to 85km/h are expected to barrel across the Waitematā Harbour tomorrow.
Along with the fierce wind and deluges that threatens to bring flooding and slips, large swells of up to 6m are also expected to make seaside conditions hazardous on the North Island’s eastern beaches.
Thames Coromandel District Council today warned the thousands of holidaymakers visiting the region to prepare for the incoming deluge.
“Hatch a wet weather plan, especially if you are camping,” said Civil Defence controller Garry Towler.
“Check your tent’s drainage, make sure they are tied down, and have a place to go if things get uncomfortable.”
Northland Civil Defence this afternoon urged people to relocate items from flood-prone areas, secure outdoor furniture and structures, including tents, and have supplies on hand in case of power cuts or road closures.
“Our campground is almost empty. They’re driving out in droves,” said Cooper.
“We have never ever had anything like this.
“We were 100 per cent full and 90 per cent of campervans staying with us left yesterday.
“There are just 12 out of 106 campervans remaining.”
She said the weather started packing up yesterday with campers waking to torn tents and gazebos.
Since word of bad weather hitting the top of the North Island was forecast she had been fielding calls all morning from people abandoning their holidays.
“I’ve had 39 cancellations alone this morning,” said Cooper.
“It’s soul-destroying,” said Cooper.
“It’s been a shocking year for us. We really needed this summer. Unfortunately, we’ve got 10 more days of this weather,” she said.
Earl Adams of Earl’s Paradise Camp in Whangapoua, Coromandel, said dozens of campers left this morning.
“Yesterday, people really started checking out because they saw this storm coming.”
The Coromandel campsite owner said wild winds were already causing mayhem this afternoon.
”I’m blowing away right now.
“It’s pretty wild here, trees are all about the place. My gazebo just got blown to shreds.
”There are no boats going out, that’s for sure,” Adams said.
Adams was disappointed the incoming storm was driving the post-Covid rush of travellers away but said he had been expecting it with the forecasts over the past few days.
”Since Covid came to town, we’ve been looking forward to people making a break for the Coromandel, but now because of the weather we’ve had lots of cancellations, even today.”
Rain had started falling this afternoon at the Whitianga Campground with the campsite manager declaring: “It’s all going to s*** right now”.
The office manager said they were now at half normal capacity.
“We had lots of people leave today.
”I’m going to go around and remind everyone to take down gazebos and batten down,” she said.
Coromandel’s Kūaotunu Campground manager David Maddock said while some campers were preparing for downpours there hadn’t been an exodus of holidaymakers yet.
”We’ve had some ‘tenters’ decide to move to more sheltered areas, but other than that we’re doing well here. We’re still about three-quarters full,” Maddock said.
”At the moment, we’ve got a bit of wind, no rain, and people are enjoying themselves on the beach.”
A manager at Uretiti Beach DOC campsite south of Whangarei said people were given the option to move to a more sheltered site ahead of the coming storm.
At this stage many campers were choosing to stay and ride it out rather than pack up and return home.
Summer Haze Matakana was cancelled after organisers decided the incoming weather put the safety of the set-up crew and concertgoers at risk.
Star act Fat Freddys Drop took to Twitter to announce they were “standing down the bedazzle” after the cancellation.
Concert director Alex Turnbull said organisers were communicating the next steps for refunding the “several thousand” tickets sold.
“We looked at postponement dates, but unfortunately, the busy schedule of the acts involved, it’s impossible to reschedule the show in the next coming days or months, so the easiest thing is to cancel the show,” Turnbull said.