Floods bring misery

LONG WHITE MESS: A satellite image of New Zealand just before 9am today.
LONG WHITE MESS: A satellite image of New Zealand just before 9am today.

Houses were evacuated in Nelson as flood waters surged down streets, and northerly gusts reached nearly 120kmh in the Wellington region as a band of wild weather hit New Zealand.

However, severe weather warnings have been lifted for many regions as conditions improved this evening.

They had been in place for Fiordland, Otago, Westland, Canterbury south of Arthur's Pass, Buller, Nelson and Taranaki.

Warnings were issued for strong winds, with Wellington's Mt Kaukau recording gusts of 119 kmh mid-afternoon, the MetService said, as the storm moved up the South Island and began to ease away in the evening.

"Winds of this strength can make driving hazardous, especially for high sided vehicles and motorcycles and could damage unsecured structures and powerlines," the MetService said.

Nelson was badly hit by flooding, cutting off some roads, while school pupils in Golden Bay were sent home at lunchtime due to fears of flooding.

The city's flooded roads were re-opened this evening, but motorists were advised to take care. Shops in the suburb of Victory were flooded, and some homes were evacuated this afternoon.

"I have never seen anything like this in 35 years," said Nelson resident Frank Saxton.

In Wellington, rain peaked about 6pm, with 12.7mm expected to fall in a two-hour period.

Heavy rain was expected for the Tararua ranges as well as the west coast of the North Island from Wellington to Taranaki. Ruapehu would also get a dowsing, though it was too warm to bring snow to the ski fields.

For Thursday, heavy rain is expected for the eastern ranges of Bay of Plenty, as well as northern Gisborne, from 9pm until noon tomorrow. Between 100 to 150 mm of rain is likely to accumulate.

Forecaster John Law said severe weather warnings may also be issued for areas around the Kaikoura Ranges and further north around Great Barrier Island and the Bay of Plenty.

The wind and rain came from the same trough over the Tasman Sea which had already dumped more than 100 millimetres of rain overnight in parts of the South Island.

An area just south of Hokitika received 114mm of rain from 7pm to 6am, while Milford Airport received 99.8mm over the same time.


Heavy rain over Auckland was expected to cease about midnight, MetService meteorologist Rob Kerr said. 

“Tomorrow in Auckland should be a fair day, with perhaps a little shower activity, but dry for most of it,” he said.

The morning would bring warm, still, conditions - fostering fog and low cloud. People flying in and out of the city in the morning should check for travel updates, he said. 

Canterbury High Country was the latest area to be removed from watch as winds eased. 

Law said winds would also ease in Wellington and Marlborough this evening, as would wetter weather around the western coasts.

“Because the weather has come from the north-westerly direction, it’s not been particularly cold ahead of it or even behind it,” Law said.

Queenstown temperatures were expected to drop to 4 degrees Celsius, and Invercargill 6C. 

MetService would issue a further update at 9pm.