The top local stories of 2017

The Edgecumbe Flood was one of the biggest stories on SunLive this year. File photo.

2017 was a big year in local news, with plenty of wild weather events, crimes, crashes, animal exploits and crazy antics piquing the interest of SunLive readers.

Below we've dug out a few of this year's most clicked-on stories to paint a picture of life in the Bay of Plenty.

Without a doubt, the year's biggest local story was the devastation wrought on Edgecumbe when the Rangitaiki River burst through stopbanks and flooded the town on April 6.

It was described as a ‘500-year event', with some residents finally allowed back on April 10 to survey the damage.

An independent review into the factors behind the flood, led by Sir Michael Cullen, released its findings in October, but did not apportion blame to any one person or organisation.

Soon after the April 6 flood, the Bay braced for another bout of stormy weather when ex-Cyclone Cook threatened the region.

Virtually every school in the Bay closed in anticipation of the heavy thunderstorm, although the expected damage from the weather event did not eventuate. Several slips occurred around the region due to the heavy rain, however, including slips in Omokoroa caused by earlier Cyclone Debbie.

In other weather news, a cold snap in July also brought snow to the Bay of Plenty.

In crime, one of this year's biggest court stories was the case of Nicole Marie Reynolds, the Mount Maunganui woman who killed two people and injured a third while driving in Maungatapu last year.

She plead guilty to two charges of drug impaired driving causing death and one charge of drug impaired driving causing injury, and in March was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

In January, footage of a road rage incident on The Strand was supplied to SunLive, garnering strong responses from readers. As a result, a man was charged with disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence.

SunLive also brought you the news of the $20 million cocaine bust by police at the Port of Tauranga in November, including a Facebook livestream of the police and customs conference.

Several fatal crashes also occurred in the region this year, including a collision between a train and a car in July near State Highway 2, in Otamarakau. In October, a truck driver was also killed in a crash with a train near Te Teko, while in March Welcome Bay Road was closed for a time due to a fatal crash. Accidents on State Highway 29 and State Highway 2 also continued to claim lives.

In lighter news, animals provided many popular stories throughout the year, including a local man towed by two orca, and a fishing boat skipper who was praised after releasing his 30 tonne catch to save six dolphins trapped in his nets.

By the far our most viewed and shared animal story was the massive spider web created at Gordon Spratt Reserve in the wake of heavy rain and flooding.

The story quickly went viral, spreading around the world and shining the internet spotlight on Papamoa, if only for a few days.

SunLive also broke another viral story this year, bringing you the news of the young man who decided to take a luge down the Kaimai Range first.

Travis Scott, 18, was later fined $750 for the antic.

And finally, SunLive also shared some tidied-up footage of 1950s Tauranga, edited by local man Brian Pinny. It was a rare glimpse into how we once were – if you haven't checked it out yet, you can see what summer was like 60 years ago here.

Those were only a few of our top stories this year – for more, take a look at our different categories, including Council to see what our city leaders have been up to, and Politics, to catch up on our coverage of this year's election.

Make sure to keep an eye on SunLive in 2018 for more breaking news, and have a happy new year.



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Great kiwi scene. Photo: Shan Shan.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz