Boat slips mooring amid weather chaos
Island Bay fishing boat Star of the Sea broke her mooring about 6am and got washed up on the beach.
Southerly winds of up to 117kmh battered Wellington last night, leading to road closures in Eastbourne and on the city's south coast as debris littered the roads.
The local community is out trying to secure the boat to the shore while large waves continue to crash in. Debris is strewn across the coastal road.
The Island Bay Marine Education Centre's base at the Island Bay Surf Club has had a roller door broken by waves.
It is the same door broken in last June's storm, which caused losses and damage for the centre.
The coastal road between Island and Owhiro bays on Wellington's south coast has been closed due to debris on the road.
CRASHES AND WEATHER CANCELS FERRIES, CLOSES ROADS
Adding to the weather confusion is a raft of crashes and road closures across the region.
The bridge over the railway line at Randwick, Lower Hutt, is closed while police clear a car crash that happened at 8.45am. No injuries were reported but a pregnant woman was being looked after, a police spokesman said.
In Elsdon, Porirua, a two-car crash outside Mana College had produced a lot of smoke but no apparent injuries.
Eastbourne vehicles were prevented from leaving the Lower Hutt suburb from 7.30am till 8.50am today as a king tide dumped debris on the road between Days Bay and Seaview.
At 5am, wind speeds at Wellington Airport were 98kmh, but on Mt Kaukau 117kmh was recorded at 3am, Metservice meteorologist Liz Walsh said.
"It was quite a gusty night," Walsh said.
Winds should ease tonight, but rain would arrive this afternoon and stick around until Saturday at least, Walsh said.
Temperatures would not exceed 10 degrees Celcius today, and up to a centimetre more snow could be expected on the Rimutaka Hill summit, Walsh said.
A northerly change would bring highs of 12 to 14 degrees by Monday, she said.
Buses and cars were stuck in Eastbourne from 7.30am to 8.50am after debris closed the road between Days Bay and Seaview. A shuttle meant to replace the East by West ferry was unable to run due to the road closure.
Inter-island and harbour ferry sailings have been cancelled this morning due to strong southerly winds.
The Interislander cancelled its 6.30am sailing from Picton and its 8.30am sailing from Wellington.
Bluebridge cancelled its 8am sailings from both sides of the Cook Strait, and the company would assess later this morning whether a 1.30pm sailing from Wellington would depart, a spokeswoman said.
East by West ferry sailings have been cancelled this morning due to stormy conditions.
All sailings from Days Bay and Queens Wharf have been cancelled, and a call on the afternoon sailings would be made at midday, a spokesman said.
Shuttle bus replacements for commuters will depart from Days Bay wharf at 7.45am and 8.35am.
Rimutaka Hill Rd in Wellington is open, but the Desert Road and many South Island highways were closed all night due to snow.
Ice caused traffic chaos on North Island roads overnight, with crashes being reported in Taupo and Bay of Plenty, where a car was overturned on the black ice.
As well as the Desert Road being closed, the road between Waiouru and Ohakune was also closed by snow overnight.
Down south state highways 6, 8, 83, 85, 87 and 96 were all closed or partially closed.
Heavy snow also fell on the Napier-Taupo Road, throughout Taranaki and between National Park and Taumarunui.
At midnight last night the NZTA website was advising motorists wishing to travel between Wellington and Auckland to detour round Taranaki or Hawke's Bay.
NZTA estimated such a journey would increase the 10-hour drive between the cities by a further four or five hours.
The heavy snowfall across the North Island last night saw both key central North Island routes - to the east and west of Mt Ruapehu - linking Auckland and Wellington closed by snow.
About 8pm last night 13 cars and a truck and trailer unit were stranded on top of the Rimutaka Hill Road between Wellington and Wairarapa.
But, according to Sergeant Peter Theobald of Police Central Communications, all vehicles were cleared from the hill last night when snow stopped falling about 9pm. The road was reopened at 11pm.
Theobald recommended motorists take care in the challenging icy conditions.
''There's two snow machines keeping an eye on the road up there overnight,'' Theobald said. Hundreds of people wanting to get to their Wairarapa homes after work from Wellington opted to remain in Wellington with friends and family overnight.
Christine Ammunson was among the motorists trapped on the Upper Hutt side of the hill when she endeavoured to drive home after finishing work late at the Human Rights Commission.
"The road was closed when I got to the bottom of the hill north of Upper Hutt about 7:45 ... I turned round and headed back towards Wellington.
"I'll be getting to work early in the morning. I'm lucky I've got people I can stay with," Ammunson said.
The temperature at Waiouru was down to zero degrees overnight while the temperatures at Raetihi and Ohakune hovered between 0-2degC.
A MetService spokesman said snow stopped falling across North Island areas affected from about 9pm onwards last night.
He predicted the possibility of further snow falls on the Desert Road this afternoon and evening.
The Dominion Post