They say the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plains but in the Bay of Plenty it fair chucks it down on our hills. This side of the range attracts more rain clouds than anywhere else in the region. We knew it would be colder, but wetter? And it is by far with an average annual rainfall of 3 meters; twice as wet as Whakatane’s paltry 1 1/2 meters.
Heavy rain warnings have come to mean just another wet day, 100 mls is nothing and as a rule it comes and goes with no problems. But occasionally we are reminded forcefully about the power of nature.
In the early days, slips and washouts occurred frequently. We lost the water system to the bottom of the farm after a small slip blocked a tiny stream near the top of the ridge opposite our house. The water built up and built up until the dam gave way sending a torrent down the stream bed resulting in a major washout. We walked up to find out why the water wasn’t running and there at the bottom of the ridge was our water pipe, tied in a big knot with tons of mud, trees and rocks.
On our road, banks often collapsed leaving deep soggy bogs full of rocks, trees and ferns. We’d shovel out a track just wide enough to drive through until the council got around to clearing it. A lot of the trees in the garden came from slips, rescued before they were bulldozed over a bank. I took this photo because there was no way I was going to sit in the truck when The Man of the House drove through.
Strong winds wreaked havoc too. A tornado whipped through and felled a neighbours retirement fund woodlot and half a shelter belt across the road and left the whole district without power for 4 days. We were blissfully unaware of the power issues, nothing had changed for us. When the pines across the road had been felled, the south westerly blasted over the cleared hills and uprooted a row of 50 year old poplars, again right across the road. Surprisingly, we hardly a missed a day’s work because of the weather although we had to take the long way out on the odd occasion.
The worst disaster of all, though was waking up to find the toilet blown over, not unusual when the westerly howled down the valley. There were many new weather events waiting to surprise us. Summer hail storms that looked like snow and necessitated the wearing of ear muffs in our unlined living area to prevent deafness, strangely beautiful frost formations on bare ground and fences, January frosts and lighting the fire at Christmas all became normal.
And with storms regularly dumping 200 mls of rain at a time, the top layer of dirt from the driveway continues to wash down and accumulate in the front yard.