Wild weather not over for some

23:46, Jun 04 2013
Waka stranding, Island Bay
Daylight shows how close the vessel is to the shore.
Waka stranding, Island Bay
Those aboard the catamaran waka had a rough night of weather to endure.
Waka stranding, Island Bay
A crew member calls out to someone onshore.
Waka stranding, Island Bay
The waka captain anchored down in Island Bay.
Waka stranding, Island Bay
The waka is only a couple of metres from the shore.
Waka stranding, Island Bay
The waka is only a couple of metres from the shore.
Waka stranding, Island Bay
Crew members huddle together on the waka.
Waka 1
The first crew members from the stranded waka arrive on shore.
Waka 2
A crew member on solid ground after a rough night at sea.
Waka 3
Crew member Belinda Averill, from Hawke's Bay, arrives on shore.

The gales and heavy rain that have hit much of the country may be easing, but the departing weather system still has a sting in its tail for some parts of the country.

A period of severe southeasterly gales was possible for Taranaki and eastern Bay of Plenty, while heavy rain was expected in the Wairoa district and southern parts of the Gisborne ranges, MetService said this morning.

Very strong to gale southeasterlies would persist about Taranaki today, with a possibility of severe gales overnight.

Strong southeasterlies were expected to develop about eastern Bay of Plenty this evening, and could rise to gale, possibly severe, for a time tonight through to tomorrow morning.

Rain was expected to spread north over eastern parts of the North Island today, becoming heavy about Wairoa and the southern Gisborne ranges from this afternoon, easing tomorrow morning.

Rain could be particularly heavy just east of Lake Waikaremoana.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) reported snow meant State Highway 73 from Arthurs Pass to Otira was closed to towing vehicles, while the AA said landslips had closed Waitati Valley Rd, north of Dunedin.

FLOODING, POWER CUTS, STRANDED WAKA

Gale force winds and rain overnight caused flooding, power outages, uprooted trees, and trapped a waka crew anchored in heavy seas.

Waka riding out the weather off Island Bay
GRIM NIGHT: A waka with 14 people on board is riding out the weather off Island Bay, on Wellington’s south coast as torrential rain and gusty winds batter the capital.

The waka, a 22-metre ocean-going Te Matau a Maui, encountered trouble of the coast of Island Bay in Wellington.

The 14-strong crew was forced to drop anchor and spend the night just offshore.

Police said choppy seas meant a rescue may have ended up tipping the waka and the crew had radioed authorities saying they would ride it out overnight.

The crew came ashore this morning.

The waka had sailed from Napier to Wellington to mark Matariki.

A rope was secured to the waka and those onboard started to come ashore via a small boat about 8am.

High winds with gusts up to 120kmh in the capital also left a number of trees and branches on roads. About 250 homes across Tawa and Titahi Bay were left without power after a tree brought down a powerline.

About 30 homes in Plimmerton were also affected, but power to most houses has since been restored.

Flights in and out of Wellington Airport were halted last night as the wind and rain picked up.

According to the airport website, flights into Wellington from Hamilton, Palmerston North, Taupo, Gisborne, Rotorua, and Westport had to be cancelled.

A flight from Timaru was diverted to Palmerston North, while some flights from Auckland, Tauranga and Nelson were delayed.

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In the South Island, trees and trampolines were reportedly thrown around on the West Coast as gale force winds cut power and disrupted motorists.

Westport and the northern Buller region was hit by severe gale southeasterlies last night, gusting up to 120kmh in some places.

The NZTA was warning motorists to take care on some roads in the South Island where grit had been laid for ice - particularly on State Highway 8 from Twizel to Fairlie.

Back in the North Island, parts of east Auckland encountered surface flooding and Whanganui residents also reported flooding in some streets.

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said winds in parts of Wellington last night reached top speeds of 126kmh.

Between 20 and 40mm of rain fell in various parts of the Wellington region. The highest rainfall recorded over the 24 hour period was in Haparapara in Bay of Plenty.

Corbett said some snow warnings were still in place for the deep south, and persistent rain may continue in eastern areas such as Gisborne, but the bad weather for the most part was beginning to abate.

"The winds are slowly dying down throughout the course of the day, there may still be some showers, but a high is building and things should fine up by tomorrow and going into Friday."

He said Auckland and the Far North may experience some thunderstorms today.

FURTHER WAIT FOR LANDSLIP-HIT RESIDENTS

Meanwhile, the rain could keep 35 slip-affected residents out of their Wellington homes until the end of the week.

Saturday's slip affected eight Kingston homes, including three that could be demolished because of their perilous position.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said staff were helping displaced residents arrange accommodation, with those unable to stay with family or friends being put up in motels until at least tonight.

It had been hoped some could return to their houses yesterday or today, but that was now unlikely before the end of the week.

"There's no way we'd put people back into the houses before the storm has passed."

The focus now was on keeping the slip site as stable as possible during the storm.

"We want as little water as possible cascading down the actual slip face . . . we don't want a waterfall."

A 20-tonne digger was at the foot of the cliff in case it was needed to divert damming water, and pumps and hoses were installed in the stormwater systems to divert as much water as possible, MacLean said.

Engineers were assessing the slip site and old records of the subdivision were being reviewed to determine the cause of the slip. Among the issues being considered was whether the site had been created by infilling land.

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