A flood of tears


A Queenstown Hill home will be uninhabitable for two months after one of the Wakatipu’s worst winter freeze-ups. 

“We’re looking at more than $50,000 in repairs,” insurance assessor Geoff Patterson says. 

He’s asking Mountain Scene to highlight the danger of homeowners going away without turning off their water main – the paper’s agreed not to identify the property or its owner. 

With the owner in the North Island visiting grandchildren, the disaster began in the roof. 

A pipe to the hot water cylinder froze and split, cascading water from the top to the bottom of the four-level house. 

The owner was away about 10 days and water poured forth almost all of that time, Patterson estimates. 

“The carpet right through was ruined completely.” 

Every ceiling in the house was also gone and a good deal of wall cladding must be ripped off and replaced. 

Then there are the contents, with Patterson saying: “Where do I start?” 

A beautiful oak table has to be completely resurfaced, and all bedding, clothing and curtains taken away for washing and drying. Some items are bound to be water-stained and will require replacement, the assessor says. 

Patterson predicts it will be two months before the owners can return to their home – and they’re upset. 

“This is a very stressful situation,” he says. 

“It’s a grief process they go through. 

“You see them going through anger, you see them going through acceptance – there’s those seven stages of grief.” 

Patterson is also dealing with another claim for flooding after a freeze-up – which he puts at $10,000-$15,000. 

He says people often don’t realise that all water pipes can split in a big freeze – copper or plastic. 

Veteran local insurance assessor Stuart Maclean has had fewer freeze-and-flood claims this winter than previously. 

“That’s not to say there haven’t been claims – we’re probably talking somewhere around the 20 mark, I would think.” 

Some are in the $20,000-$30,000 range, Maclean says.