State of Emergency Declared: Queenstown, NZ Ravaged by Floods and Landslides

Authorities are still working to assess the extent of the situation as the north and south islands are battered by severe weather and landslides.
State of Emergency Declared: Queenstown, NZ Ravaged by Floods and Landslides
New Zealand declares state of emergency after intense flooding and landslides. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Jessie Zhang

New Zealand’s Queenstown has been placed under a state of emergency after severe weather conditions in the popular resort destination caused flooding and landslides.

The incident comes as New Zealand’s severe weather impacts the lower North Island and most of the South Island—where Queenstown is located—including a magnitude 6.2 earthquake near Geraldine two days ago.

Mayor of Queenstown Glyn Lewers declared the state of emergency on Sept. 22 at 6:55am, given the intense rain over the past 24 hours.

“The current weather event is an active and evolving situation. We have been working with emergency management throughout the night to assess the full extent of the situation in the current conditions,” Mr. Lewers said in a statement.

“Several flooding and debris events have been identified and we’re continuing to contact affected people.”

Flooding and debris are flowing into the town centre and surrounding districts, requiring evacuation from properties surrounding Upper Brecon Street, Reavers Lane, Fryer Street, and Hamilton Road.

In the Queenstown area, 109 people were evacuated from their homes overnight due to multiple road closures and flood damage.

A landslide also came down from the town centre at Bob’s Peak, inundating Queenstown Cemetery.

Managing Evacuees

Mr. Lewers said Emergency Management Otago was looking to establish a temporary place of refuge.

“A temporary evacuation centre has been set up at St. Peters Church to manage evacuees who have not been able to relocate,” he said.

He urged locals to avoid travelling through or around the town centre.

New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency echoed his sentiments while cautioning people about contaminated water.

“Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. If you see rising water, do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater,” the agency advised.

“Take care out there, and for more advice on what to do during heavy rain, visit:”

A boil water notice remains in place for all properties serviced by the Queenstown council due to a recent outbreak of cryptosporidium, a protozoan parasite that results in severe gastric illness.

The outbreak occurred because the region’s water treatment plant does not currently have a filter to eliminate the parasite from the drinking water.

By Thursday, approximately 21 people had confirmed cases of the parasite, and residents may need to boil their water or drink bottled water for several weeks before it becomes safe to drink again.

The agency said it was safe to take a bath or shower but be careful not to swallow any water. Use caution when bathing babies and young children.

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