Auckland dodges Cyclone Cook as it tracks east
Auckland has dodged Cyclone Cook as the storm's centre tracks further east.
Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty are experiencing the brunt of the cyclone, which is still offshore, expected to make landfall at 6pm on Thursday.
MetService has lifted a wind warning for Auckland, although it has still warned of strong southwesterly gales in exposed places.
The rain warning for the Super City would end at 6pm on Thursday.
Civil Defence said the region had received 25-70mm of rain over the 24 hours up to Thursday evening, with 70mm falling in the west of Auckland and Great Barrier Island receiving 67mm.
The council's stormwater department had received more than 400 requests for service, 240 of which were emergency calls.
There had been a number of small landslips and associated road closures, but no residents are completely isolated, although some had limited access, largely in the southeast.
Auckland had escaped the worst of the weather system, although it had grazed Waiheke and Great Barrier Islands with bands of rain and high winds.
Meanwhile, Aucklanders trying to flee the CBD amid dire warnings of Cyclone Cook's impact have faced gridlock and flights have been cancelled.
Airport spokesperson Kate Thomson confirmed several Air New Zealand outbound flights on domestic regional routes out of Auckland Airport had been cancelled.
Afternoon flights to Napier, Hastings, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Tauranga, and Rotorua had all been called off.
Thomson said as far as she was aware, Jetstar's domestic flights had not been affected by the cancellations.
A statement released by Air New Zealand said the airline "expects to be unable to operate to and from a number of North Island airports as the afternoon progresses".
A number of passengers were queuing to rebook their flights or make other arrangements.
Amongst the queue, Max Lee, of Christchurch was hoping to get to Mt Maunganui before Saturday for an unveiling.
Lee and her travel companion were flying to Tauranga from Christchurch via Auckland.
They arrived at about 1.45pm and had been queuing for more than an hour.
"After the first flight I put my airplane mode off and saw we'd been cancelled ... the flight was late anyway," she said.
"It's a little stressful, so long as we get there before Saturday ... the main thing is we have our belongings."
By midday, Auckland schools and university campuses had shut down, while offices sent staff home early.
Queue for the Northern Express to get out of town pic.twitter.com/KaU6q2rkQc— Greater Auckland (@GreaterAKL) April 13, 2017
On Thursday morning, the New Zealand Transport Agency said the Auckland Harbour Bridge might close amid fears of 160kmh winds.
However, on Thursday afternoon, MetService meteorologist Arno Dyson said it was unlikely the bridge would be closed.
Eastern parts of Auckland - including Great Barrier Island and the Hauraki Gulf - could still see a lot stronger winds, but in the CBD and Auckland's south it should be a lot lighter, he said.
Auckland University, AUT, Unitec and Massey all closed their campuses between 11am and 1pm.
A raft of schools and early childhood education centres also closed their doors, citing wind warnings.
The rash of early closures has caused earlier than expected delays on public transport with students, as well as office workers, flooding onto buses.
Due to early closure of Universities, schools & businesses, PM peak has arrived early. Extra buses are on their way. Please be patient. ^NW— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) April 12, 2017
Traffic had been heavy on most motorways - much of it caused by minor crashes in the wet weather.
Auckland Civil Defence head of emergency management operations Aaron Davis said people shouldn't "take chances" with the weather.
People should consider delaying travel, he said.
"Keep an eye on weather updates [and] road information and if you're flying in or out of Auckland check with your airline for regular updates."
The rush hour had started early, and people were urged to drive to the conditions, he said.
"If travelling on public transport there may be queues and . . . there are likely to be delays as the long weekend exodus takes place."
Auckland Transport spokesman James Ireland said 20 extra buses had been put into action to cope with the high numbers of people heading home early.
The demand for buses was fuelled by the fear the Auckland Harbour Bridge may be out of action, and Auckland University closing, he said.
Earlier, northern fire communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said fire crews had responded to 13 incidents in West Auckland after a deluge of rain.
Fire crews worked for hours to stem the flow of floods across the area.
Properties on Garelja Rd, Henderson, experienced major flooding with four fire crews spending three hours pumping water out from three properties between 2am and 5am.
Flooding also entered a rest home in Waitakere at 1.15am Thursday with fire crews using electric squeegees.
Parked cars on Piha Rd were one metre deep in water.
Homes in Orewa and Birkenhead had also been hit by flooding.
State Highway 10 at Kaeo is now open after it was closed due to flooding earlier in the day, NZTA said.
One lane is now open through the Mangamuka Gorge, on State Highway 1 south of Kaitaia, and contractors are continuing to clear the slip.
Kerikeri had 75.8 mm of rain in just two hours late Wednesday evening - just over half the amount of rain normally received during all of April, said NIWA.
A route to Kaitaia has been opened up by NZTA, two hours after floods and slips caused Kaitaia to be almost completely cut off from the rest of the country.
At 7.35am NZTA said the Far North was "temporarily inaccessible" after a large slip closed off the route from Kaitaia through State Highway 1 and a detour, through State Highway 10, was also closed off after flooding.
Kaitoke School, Okiwa School, Mulberry Grove School.
Waiheke Primary School, Waiheke High School, Te Huruhi School.
Clevedon School, Brookby School, Orere Point School, Kaiaua School, Maraetai Beach School, Beachlands School, Hunua School.
Mount Albert Grammar School.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTRE CLOSURES
Aotea Island Playcentre.
Fossil Bay Kindergarten, Tots On The Rock, Waiheke Community Childcare Centre, Beginnings Early Learning Centre
Clevedon Kidz Early Childhood Centre, Clevedon Kindergarten.
- Falls Road, Warkworth (closed to Woodcocks Road, flooding)
- Waiteitei Road, Wellsford (Farmers Lane to Silverhill Road and Rapson Road, closed, flooding)
- Wayby Station, Wellsford (closed from SH1 to Prictor Road, flooding)
- Day Road, Wellsford (closed, flooding)
- Rapson Road, Waitoki (closed, slip)
Auckland South East
- Maraetai Coast Road (closed, slips)
- Kawakawa Bay Coast Road (closed, slips, access for residents and emergency services only)
- East Coast Road (north of Tainui camp, closed, slips)
- McNicol Road, Clevedon (closed, slip, access for residents only)
- Great North Road & Clark Street intersection, New Lynn (closed, flooding, motorists asked to avoid area)
- Bethells Road (closed between Stoney Creek Drive & Duffy Road, slips)
A number of rural roads may be down to one lane or open with restrictions.