Lake levels rising faster than predicted as Wanaka braces for worst flooding in 20 years

Lake levels are rising faster than predicted in Wanaka as the town braces for its worst flooding in 20 years.

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Lake levels are rising faster than predicted, as heavy rain in the region shows no sign of letting up. Source: 1 NEWS

Heavy rain in the region shows no sign of letting up, as businesses and locals step up their preparations.

“Not happy, but it's nature,” Richard Liddell said.

More rain today has seen the lake rise another nine centimetres since this morning as sandbags line sealed storefronts.

“Obviously, it's a bit of a drama for the people who are directly affected by it,” Deputy Mayor Calum Macleod said. “Certainly, it's not very nice if your business is being inundated.”

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Roads were empty following yesterday’s heavy rain. Source: 1 NEWS

However, it’s not just rising water levels that have authorities concerned, with a sea of debris floating on its surface. While heavy machinery has been brought in in an attempt to clear it, water from rivers have been sending it right back into the lake.

Meanwhile, in Lake Wakatipu, Kinloch Lodge has been cut off since Monday as owner John Glover ferries guests in by boat.

"It's part of good hospitality, rural living and it’s part of what a young country like NZ is all about when it rains,” Mr Glover said.

In Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu is expected to rise another 20 centimetres, and could spill over into other areas, including some of the shops closest to the lakefront. At this level, it will also flood the town’s stormwater system.

In Wanaka, Ardmore Street on the lakefront is expected to be swamped later this weekend, with the water potentially reaching back up the main shopping street as well.

The regional council is warning the flood could be the worst flood since 1999, when 200 millimetres of rain fell in just two days.