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New Zealand - Apple orchard near Nelson left absolutely ruined by Gita floodwaters

A large part of a Riwaka apple orchard has been ruined by floodwaters from Cyclone Gita on Tuesday and Golden Bay Fruit manager Evan Heywood says the really upsetting part is they won’t have another crop for up to seven years.

Mr Heywood said in the whole rain event there was about 230mm to fall and he thinks probably 100 of that fell in three hours at the end of the day after it had been raining all day.

“And that’s what has caused this torrent of water that over flowed and debris that came with it,” he said.

“It was the rivers and creeks that were blocked and then the water spilled out. It wasn’t the Riwaka River itself but some of the creeks going into it. And the water came over and made a new path straight through here.”

Mr Heywood said the block he was standing in is the worst affected “and it’s probably one of our better blocks and there’s a full crop there”.

“It had hail net on which I don’t think helped. And that’s been pretty much completely flattened, probably 80 per cent flattened. So we can’t get any value or salvage out of that, so we have to push it into a big heap and get rid of it some other way,” he said.

He said another block is partially collapsed, “but the rest of the block out here have got debris and silt down pretty much every row that we need to try and get out before we start harvesting, which is only a couple of weeks away”.

“The really upsetting part is we won’t have another crop here for another five, six or seven years, or back to where it was,” Mr Heywood said.

“So it’s not just the losses this year. We have to replant and wait for those trees to start producing to the same level as these ones that we’ve lost.”

Mr Heywood said they’re still assessing the total loss.

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