Weather: Thunder and heavy rain warnings for North Island, upper South Island

Stuff.co.nz

High winds and heavy rain have caused problems across New Zealand.

A motorcyclist is dead and a major route into Taranaki closed after an accident caused by storms that are hitting much of the North Island.

Severe thunderstorms, heavy rain, and fierce winds gusting to 140kmh are bearing down on large areas of the country, causing chaos from coast to coast. 

How's the weather affecting you? Send your videos/photos/stories to newstips@stuff.co.nz

ZANETTA ZANETTA/FACEBOOK Cameron Burnell/Fairfax NZ KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ MAARTEN HOLL MONIQUE FORD / Fairfax NZ MONIQUE FORD / Fairfax NZ SUPPLIED PAUL HARPER/FAIRFAX NZ Monique Ford/Fairfax NZ

Photo of a trampoline being blown over a fence in Wainuiomata.

A car drives around the coast on Evans Bay Parade in rough weather

Clyde Quay boat harbour boaties say waves in the marina have become much bigger since an underwater car park was put in at Clyde Quay wharf apartments.

Driving gales made for some hairy landings at Wellington Airport on Friday.

Windy wet Wellington central city rainy day weather rain people street

Pedestrians shelter from the weather in central Wellington.

This tree could not stand up to the wind at a house in Hataitai, Wellington, bringing down the neighbours' clothes line.

A bedroom window blown out by strong winds in Brooklyn Wellington.

Wild weather hit Wellington on Friday.

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Police have called for caution on the roads, after saying the wet weather contributed to the fatal motorbike accident.

The man died after colliding with a truck on State Highway 3, about 2km north of the Awakino tunnel around 12.40pm Friday. The road was closed, meaning the only way into north Taranaki was via Whanganui.

READ MORE:
Invercargill pocket park gets a mow, as wet and windy weather returns to Southland
Cancelled flights and road closures as wild weather hits
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Paul Harper

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A helicopter was called in from New Plymouth to airlift the rider but St John said the man had died before it arrived.

The bad weather has also contributed to significant delays on State Highway One between Manakau and Otaki as holidaymakers return to Wellington, NZ Transport Angency spokesman Anthony Frith said.

Frith said most of the congestion was affecting southbound traffic on the north side of the Otaki roundabout while traffic heading north was flowing relatively freely. 

A car drives around the coast on Evans Bay Parade in rough weather
Cameron Burnell/Fairfax NZ

A car drives around the coast on Evans Bay Parade in rough weather

A truck struck a barrier closing a major highway and trucking route through the Hauraki Plains and in Auckland a crash city-bound on the Northern Motorway at Constellation Drive had traffic backed up to Greville Road.

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Northern Fire shift manager Megan Ruru said firefighters had been called on to help  pump out flooded properties in Titirangi and Te Atatu after hours of heavy rainfall.

A "mini tornado" hit near Picton, seeing holidaymakers pack up their tents and head home early.

"This morning a mini tornado hit the camp ground and up lifted our tent with all its contents," camper Katherine Monson said from Parklands Marina Holiday Park on Friday afternoon.

"Fortunately we were not there at the time. There has been severe winds and rain last night and all through the day so far," she said.

Selma Lassueur, the owner of Parklands Marina Holiday Park, said it had been windy and rainy but nothing out of the ordinary. Only one tent in the camp had blown over, she said.

The Interislander ferry is towed into port in Picton.
supplied

The Interislander ferry is towed into port in Picton.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said anyone tramping or venturing into the back country should take care.

MORE TO COME: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The West Coast was the first to feel the force of the storm which has since moved over the upper South Island and onto the North Island.

A severe thunderstorm was issued by Metservice covering Northland to Taranaki until 10pm Friday, which was expected to bring heavy rain. Downpour intensities could reach 45mm an hour, and winds gusts to 100kmh during the thunderstorms.

Surface water has been reported on Auckland's North Western motorway after Lincoln Road and congestion is causing delays north of Auckland on SH1 between Te Hana and Warkworth.

The NZ Transport Agency is warning drivers to be cautious of strong winds on the Desert Rd, and on SH2 over the Rimutaka Hill between Wellington and Wairarapa.

The flight path of JQ167 diverted to Christchurch due to high winds in Wellington on Jan 8, 2016.
None

The flight path of JQ167 diverted to Christchurch due to high winds in Wellington on Jan 8, 2016.

In the South Island, NZTA told motorists to watch out for strong winds on SH80 between Omarama and Fairlie,  SH80 from SH8 to Mt Cook, SH73 from Springfield to Arthur's Pass and SH7 from Springs Junction to Hanmer Springs.

Areas likely to have the heaviest rain are north Westland, Buller, the ranges of northwest Nelson and Nelson Lakes, the Tararua Range, and the ranges of eastern Bay of Plenty.

'TERRIFYING' AIR TRAVEL

Wheelie bin down! Wellington City Council had warned residents not to put their bins out to avoid this situation.
TOM HUNT/FAIRFAX NZ

Wheelie bin down! Wellington City Council had warned residents not to put their bins out to avoid this situation.

In Wellington, high winds forced the cancellation of numerous flights.

Planes of all sizes were struggling in the strong, driving winds, and the delays and cancellations were expected to continue for the rest of the day, Wellington Airport spokeswoman Briarley Kirk said.

"The winds are driving and then dropping off, which is causing problems to all planes across the network."

Landing conditions had caused a Jetstar flight, JQ 167, from the Gold Coast to be diverted to Christchurch. The return flight would also be affected. Jetstar said via its website Gold Coast-bound passengers could expect an update in due course.

Brisbane resident Jo Connolly and her family waited in a moving queue at Christchurch Airport, for details of a new flight to Wellington, where they were headed for a holiday.

Connolly and fellow passenger Brenda Slieker said they were "thankful" the plane had circled Wellington airport just once, before it headed south to Christchurch.

"Just terrifying," Connolly said. "It was the worst I've ever had. I've flown out of Wellington hundreds of times and never had it like that before."

The plane rocked, rolled and was thrown up and down in the turbulent weather.

"My little one screamed and then I couldn't let her go for 30 minutes after," Connolly said, of her three year-old daughter.

"I had that little moment when I didn't know if we were going to make it."

Winds are expected to be strongest in Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, with other areas at risk including inland north Canterbury, Kapiti Coast, Hawke's Bay, and coastal Southland and Clutha.

 - Stuff

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