Rain lashes Queenstown filling lakes and rivers

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Dramatic images show Queenstown’s lakes and rivers fit to burst as the resort is lashed with rain for a second day.

Lake Wakatipu, Shotover River and Dart River are all full to the brim – but council staff say the CBD will not be flooded.

A team of Queenstown Lakes District Council staff are conducting walkabouts to reassure businesses as lake levels rise.

Torrential rain yesterday and this morning saw Lake Wakatipu’s water level reach 310.9 metres at 11am this morning.

The first flood trigger warning level is 310.8m.

Modelling carried out by Otago Regional Council (ORC) suggests the worst case scenario is lake levels reaching the second trigger, 311.3m this afternoon.

That could see minimal flooding in low-lying reserve areas such as Queenstown beach, Frankton arm and St Omer Park.

But lake waters would need to rise by about another metre before CBD businesses are threatened. The 1999 flood level was 312.8m.

Six council staff went door to door along the Queenstown Bay front this morning, telling businesspeople the lake level is expected to peak between 3pm-6pm today.

Communications boss Meaghan Miller says: “We’re just conducting a walkabout to reassure businesses and see how they’re doing. 

“We spoke to business owners back in November and this is really just to check they’re happy with everything and know how we can be contacted.”

Several tourism operators, including Shotover Jet, Dart River Safaris, Skippers Canyon Jet Serious River Surfing and other companies, have cancelled operations due to high river levels.

Matt Rhodes, marketing manager for Skippers, says: “It’s at the same peak level as the flood in ’99 so we’ve cancelled operations.

“Hopefully we’ll be back up tomorrow but it’s got a long way to come down.”

Arrowtown and Wanaka swimming pools were closed yesterday after a 10-year-old was struck by lightning at the Wanaka pool.

Back country roads in the area are being inspected this morning. At this stage Greenstone, Kinloch, Paradise and the Mount Aspiring Roads remain closed but these roads will re-open as flow and repair permit. The remainder of the roading network in the Lakes District is unaffected.

QLDC and ORC began its annual flood awareness campaign with walkabouts in November. It maintains a database of cell phone numbers for retailers in case of flooding.