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Parts of South Island left battered and bruised after heavy rainfall, hail sweep through region

Parts of the South Island have been left battered and bruised amid unusual storms in the region last night, heavy rainfall flooding roads and inundating a Canterbury town with large hailstones.

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Intense weather has left a big clean-up job and an even bigger damages bill. Source: 1 NEWS

The small Canterbury town of Geraldine took a beating after large amounts of hail fell during a thunderstorm last night.

“We just all stood in the hallway and watched it through the windows and hoped that it wasn't going to break the house. It was pretty scary,” resident Vanessa Harper told 1 NEWS.

“The roof of our house has had some of the paint stripped off it, believe it or not. All our trees, the leaves are stripped off,” resident Roger Harper added.

The hail - with stones up to 30mm in size - fell for up to an hour after a fast-moving storm struck the region at around 7.30pm yesterday.

Further south, a bistro in the small Otago town of Middlemarch was flooded for the second time in as many years following heavy rainfall.

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“I think the biggest damage for us is the fact that we're closed, probably for the rest of the season, depending on how long it takes to fix all this up,” Tap & Dough owner Norma Emerson said. “And these are losses that we can't really afford on top of the Covid losses.”

Otago Regional Councillor Kate Wilson said while there was "less structural damage" following yesterday's storm, several properties were flooded “and that's really hard on those businesses”.

While waters are receding, roads remain closed throughout north and central Otago, and Southland.

MetService forecaster Hordor Thordarson said some places saw an excess of 100 millimetres of rain over the south-east of the South Island, which he called “very unusual for those areas”.

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher said while an assessment is now underway, he "wouldn't be surprised" if there was "something in the six figure range" worth of damage to the region's roading network. 

The sheer amount of water also overwhelmed many wastewater systems, with tankers being brought in to supply Middlemarch and Patearoa with drinking water.

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The damage to roads in one district is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Source: 1 NEWS

Residents in Otematata, Duntroon and Waihemo were advised to boil and conserve drinking water until further notice.

Kircher said the weather has “brought some good,” with the heavy rain breaking a drought. Some farmland has been inundated, however.

Meanwhile, swimmers and boaties were warned to wait several days before using lakes and rivers again in order to let debris clear.

But the wait was finally over for festivalgoers near Dunedin, with some 200 punters and crew allowed to return home after having to sit tight overnight due to flooding.

“We were actually prepared for a Covid outbreak, and instead we get floods but we're prepared regardless,” Whare Flat Festival’s Annabel Roy said.