Some flood-zone areas reopen

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Authorities are not expecting Queenstown’s dangerously high and flood-prone Lake Wakatipu to recede to a safer level for another 10 days. 

The lake is sitting at 311.48 metres above sea level and Queenstown mayor Clive Geddes says officials expect the lake to rise “a little”, peaking sometime between now and midnight tomorrow. 

From early next week it is expected to recede but isn’t expected to be back to the first flood trigger level of 310.8m till about May 10. 

“We need to reinforce that between now and then the lake will remain at a very high level and the risk of wave action driven by wind remains,” Geddes says. 

“We feel we’re getting on the positive side of the event but there’s still risk.” 

Some retailers who’d evacuated their premises several days ago started restocking their outlets along Rees Street – a block from Queenstown Bay – this morning. 

Most of Queenstown is open for business and the regular Saturday market at Earnslaw Park was relocated to the more central Village Green on Camp Street. 

Just before midday Queenstown Lakes District Council officials decided to remove road blocks at the top of Beach Street, and from the Shotover Street end of Rees Street. 

Earl Street is also expected to be reopened today. 

However, lower Beach Street remain closed to traffic. 

The Queenstown Gardens end of Marine Parade and Queenstown Bay parks are heavily swamped. Most retail outlets in the danger zone are still heavily sandbagged and huge blocks and concrete pipes designed to ease any wave action will stay in place along the downtown wharf edge. 

A further update is expected on Monday morning.