Cyclone Hale Causes Widespread Damage and Debris Along North Island Coastlines

Cyclone Hale Causes Widespread Damage and Debris Along North Island Coastlines

As a severe weather warning continues to affect the region, the Thames Coast Road, Windy Point, has been closed to all traffic just north of Thames due to concerns over an unstable cliff. Police have urged the public to be wary of the area and instead use State Highway 25A as an alternative route. The potential collapse of the ridge is attributed to the harsh weather conditions which have been pounding the region in recent days. Motorists are advised to stay updated and plan their routes accordingly.

As Cyclone Hale continues to affect the central North Island, the Thames-Coromandel District Council has deployed heavy machinery to clear debris caused by landslides. The MetService had issued a heavy rain warning for the region, which has now ended. However, the region is expected to receive significant rainfall, with forecasts predicting 50mm to 60mm as the storm’s associated trough hits the area. Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt has expressed concern over the saturated conditions of the region, warning that the possibility of further landslides in the coming days remains high. The area has already received an unusual amount of rainfall, with 800mm recorded in just 11 days, an amount that would typically take until May to accumulate.

As Cyclone Hale continues to destroy the North Island’s coastlines, one of the most visible impacts has been the widespread erosion of beaches. Along with the natural debris, many residents and volunteers have been left to sift through large amounts of microplastics and other litter that the storm has churned up. In the Coromandel region, Surf Lifesaving teams are working with local sustainability groups to address the problem quickly. Eastern region Surf Lifesaving manager Chaz Gibbons-Campbell stated that the Waihi club is leading the effort, and the community is also actively participating, many with shovels and gloves in hand, to clear the plastic debris.

“Cyclone Hale has brought an unfortunate side effect of an increased presence of plastic waste on our beaches,” Eastern region Surf Lifesaving manager Chaz Gibbons-Campbell said. “You get fish eating the beads of plastic, so we want to get that cleaned up as quickly as possible.” He added that they are working to remove as much plastic debris as possible.

In addition to the plastic pollution, the heavy swells caused by the cyclone also exposed the remains of a buried whale on a Coromandel beach. The Department of Conservation Coromandel operations manager, Nick Kelly, reported that staff inspected the whale burial site at Wharekaho alongside Ngāti Hei representatives. However, the conditions were too dangerous to rebury the whale, but they would do so once states settled. Hence, the site will be monitored by the local iwi members.

Furthermore, the historic Whitianga Boating Club in Mercury Bay has been left vulnerable after 4 meters of the bank were scoured away. Club commodore, Jonathan Kline, said that they might be forced to move the building twice to ensure its future.