Boathouse manager Ali Howard outside the historic waterfront building that was battered in last week’s storm. Photo: Charles Anderson.

‘We will rebuild’


The storm may have battered and bruised two iconic buildings on Nelson’s waterfront, but they won’t be shuttered so easily.

Dramatic video footage of last Thursday’s storm showed the Boathouse and Boat Shed Café both at the mercy of the waves crashing over Rocks Rd. Water washed through the inside of the buildings and emerged through the front doors.

“There were some pretty dramatic moments,” says Erin Palmisano, partner of Boat Shed owner Daniel Monopoli. “We are hoping her bones are still good.”

The storm, which coincided with a king tide, caused chaos across the region with residents evacuated and roads closed. Most heavily affected were in Mapua, Ruby Bay and the Glen where water broke over walls and into homes.

Engineers were still at the Boat Shed looking for damage, however, Erin says they are vowing to reopen.

“We have every intention of being back open and running, but in terms of time frame we have no idea. But we are hopeful.”

Erin says they had the whole Boat Shed team cleaning up on the day.

“She is still standing. The overwhelming support from the entire community has been wonderful … everybody has been so amazing and supportive, and it means the world.”

She says there is also some exciting new developments on the horizon which means there is much to look forward to.

Down the road, Boathouse manager Ali Howard says the prognosis for the building is “as clear as mud” as there were so many external influences to consider – including insurance and engineers’ reports.

“Our aim is to get the building repaired as soon as we can. That’s our aim but we want to do it properly.”

The boat ramp was washed away and floorboards lifted up, but other than that Ali was confident the building was in good shape. About five years ago there was extensive work done on its piles and just the day before the storm it had its annual inspection, which it passed.

Ali says they are working to rehouse travelling gigs who were booked into the venue. There was also a wedding reception they were meant to have hosted this weekend which has also found a new home.

“That’s a full-time job to find alternative venues. We want to help everybody as much as we can.”

As for Rocks Rd itself, NZTA is still assessing the scale of the damage to determine exactly what repairs will be required to restore the road and make it more resilient to future weather events.

“The damage is considerable, including damage to the sea wall and the footpath,” a spokesperson says. “Until that assessment is complete it’s too early to speculate on the cost of repairs.”