Maruia Springs washed out by heavy rain
The West Coast’s wet and wild weather over the past week has severely damaged the Maruia Springs Resort in the Lewis Pass. The raging river washed away the pipe that carries thermal water to the famous hot pools, and now they've all dried up. It's man and machine against Mother Nature.
One broken pipe would usually bridge right across the river. But last week's high water levels ripped it apart and damaged the structure holding it in place, causing a headache for resort owner Akira Matsushita.
“It's a nightmare,” he says. “It was quite scary.”
The pipe carries thousands of litres of thermal spring water to the Maruia Springs Japanese Resort, just over the other side. With it being broken, the famous hot pools have dried up.
“Normally [it is] of course full with hot springs water, and many, many people this time of the year because it's New Years,” says Mr Matsuchita’s wife, Takako Ogino. “Empty now.”
Right now precious thermal water's going to waste and the resort's losing thousands of dollars a day.
“More than maybe $10,000,” says Ms Ogino.
So today's mission is to fix the pipe and get both ends out of the river and reconnected.
“We’re just sort of like Japanese Civil Defence,” says Mr Matsushita.
The team's made up of his helicopter and a group of courageous Japanese employees.
But after 22 years of living and working on the South Island’s remote West Coast, Mr Matsushita has picked up some Kiwi ingenuity.
“We've learned a lot from New Zealanders and we know roughly how to go a temporary fix – a number eight wire fixing job,” he says.
It's obviously a big job and it won't be finished today. But they do have to have thermal water running across the river by the end of the weekend.
It's crucial for business that the pools will be up and running by early next week, as the resort is located on the busy Lewis Pass and thousands of motorists stop off at this time of year.
But with Mr Matsushita’s Japanese Civil Defence team on the job, the repairs are already off to a flying start.