Wild weather lingers over North Island

Last updated 20:21 16/07/2012

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Flooding has closed State Highway 1 between Taupo and Turangi and a heavy rain warning remains in place for the ranges east of Bay of Plenty tonight.

However, the wet weather is easing in most parts of the North Island.


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Heavy rain moving up the country caused flooding and slips across the central North Island today.

Around 7.30pm NZTA advised SH1 was closed north of Turangi due to flooding which made the road impassable at Waiotaka straights.

Further north, a 60-metre slip near the Awakino Hotel, in Waitomo District, closed State Highway 3 to all traffic during the day.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said one lane had been reopened but delays were possible

While both lanes had been closed, the trip from Waikato to New Plymouth had involved a three-hour detour via Whanganui.

The large amount of soil and debris on the road meant full clearance back to two lane access was likely to take another day or two, NZTA acting state highway manager Karen Boyt said.

A heavy rain warning remained in place for eastern ranges of the Bay of Plenty tonight, as a front moved across the eastern Bay of Plenty tonight, preceded by strong northwesterlies and rain.

A further 30mm of rain was forecast for the eastern Bay of Plenty ranges tonight on top of what has already fallen, MetService said.

"People are advised rivers and streams may rise rapidly. By midnight tonight, the front should move away to the east with rain easing."

MetService this evening lifted its heavy rain warnings for Taranaki, the Tararua Range and the central North Island hill country as conditions eased.

Concerns about possible flooding in Whanganui tomorrow eased as it became apparent the Whanganui River would not reach heights earlier feared.

Wanganui Civil Defence duty officer Stuart Hylton said the river was expected to peak in the city around 10am, about 50cm below the top of its stopbanks.

Water was expected on some low lying roads in the city but it was thought disruption would be minor, Hylton said.

Horizons Regional Council said the lower than expected peak meant the river should pass freely under the Wanganui town bridge tomorrow morning.

Roads closed by flooding in the top of the South Island at the weekend opened today.

NZTA said some highways, including SH6 to Westport, SH65 near Nelson Lakes National Park and SH73 to Arthur's Pass were closed early this morning.

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But by this evening, the only road still shown by NZTA as closed was the Arthur's Pass road, which was shut due to slips at Waimakariri Bluffs, on the Canterbury side of the pass.

- Stuff

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