Thursday, April 25, 2024

Damage forecast for Southland and Otago

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it is expecting flood damage across conservation areas in Southland and Otago and is advising people to reconsider any backcountry travel.

A State of Emergency has been declared for Southland and parts of Otago after heavy rain caused flooding across the region.

DOC Operations Director Southern South Island, Aaron Fleming says while it is too soon to know the extent of potential damage, DOC expects a number of tracks, bridges and campsites could be impacted.

“Our first priority is keeping people safe. People should listen to Civil Defence and police and follow any instructions or alerts to keep themselves and others safe,” he said.

DOC staff have not yet been able to assess the damage across the network, but people should expect unstable land, swollen streams and rivers, and damage to visitor facilities, Aaron says.

“One area that we know has been impacted is the popular Lake Sylvan Track. Yesterday the Sylvan bridge was destroyed, and the bank eroded by the fast-flowing river, and trees were seen falling in high numbers along the track. The track is now inaccessible.”

“We will have a better idea in the coming days and weeks, but right now we suggest people rethink any backcountry plans and not take any unnecessary risks,” said Mr Fleming.

People who have bookings for campsites and other DOC facilities that are impacted by the State of Emergency can contact

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