Grey skies are going to clear up ... sort of

Last updated 11:59 14/10/2012
fallen tree onerahi
Suzanne Campbell
WILD WEATHER: This tree fell down in in Whangarei, temporarily trapping two boys underneath it.

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The weather is expected to improve today with the bulk of showers and gusty wind remaining in the North Island.

Severe winds gusts and heavy rain brought down trees and cut power across the country yesterday.

Metservice duty forecaster Gerard Barrow said some areas were hit with gusts of about 120kmh.

"The north of the South Island, including Kaikoura, had around 150-200mm of rain and there was also heavy rain in Taranaki and the Tararua Ranges," he said.

"But we have had no reports of incidents overnight, the serious weather is abating."

Barrow said the South Island has lucked in today with light winds and very little rain expected.

"Winds are still going to be strong in areas bit not like yesterday," he said.

"There will also be showers in places, but not as serious as yesterday - especially in the South Island."

A new front will bring rain and possibly snow to 600m in the Southland and Clutha areas later tonight.

The North Island can expect westerly winds and showers in central areas today.

Auckland will bear the brunt of the wind, with gusts reaching 50kmh.

The system has now moved east towards the Chatham Islands, where a strong wind warning is in place until this afternoon.

Yesterday's storm left 700 cruise boat passengers stranded overnight in Canterbury.

The mostly American and European passengers from the Sea Princess cruise ship took shelter in the Akaroa Area School gymnasium, as the rough conditions have made it unsafe for them to return to the ship berthed in the harbour.

A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman said the cruise ship operators had hoped to leave Akaroa harbour at 9am today, but the sea was "still a little rough''.

The weather appeared to be improving though, she said.

"They're looking at trying to re-board at 1pm.''

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker travelled to Akaroa this morning to check on the cruise ship passengers following their "rather unique" experience.

"I said 'I'm sorry it's the first ship of the season and you got caught up in the storm', and they said 'no, no, we've had a great time'."

There was a "very positive atmosphere'' in the town, and the passengers had enjoyed the local hospitality overnight, he said.

"I think there were a couple there who were missing the fact they didn't have an en-suite bathroom last night, but I spoke to dozens of people who spoke about the generosity of the local community."

The unexpected overnight stay had given an extra boost to the Banks Peninsula town, he said.

"All the accommodation was booked out overnight because of this.''

Cafes and other businesses also opened their doors early this morning to cater to the passengers while they waited to re-board their ship.

The weather was clearing this morning, and the harbour was "looking a lot flatter now".

Parker also thanked the Akaroa community and local Civil Defence workers who "really stood up again and did a wonderful job".
Strong winds also buffeted the Coromandel Peninsula, cutting power to Thames about lunchtime yesterday.

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While the centre of Thames did not entirely lose power, the houses in the area behind the hospital were without power for about six hours before it came back on at 6.30pm.

Yesterday Auckland firefighters were called out to more than 30 incidents in the city.

Fire communications manager Scott Osmond said many of the jobs involved shifting trees which had blocked roads but there had been some more delicate operations where they had fallen on to powerlines and one incident in Glen Innes where a tree had hit a house.

Winds in Wellington also picked up last night, with Metservice expecting the southerly change to lower temperatures for the night.

There were also reports of power outages on the North Shore in North Canterbury.

- Stuff

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