Southland battered by storm

21:09, Sep 10 2013
Te Anau strong winds
WILD WELCOME: Malaysian visitors Je Sen and Shin Wei battle the strong winds on the Te Anau lakefront yesterday.

A 2-tonne boat squashed flat like a "pancake" by a twister was among the damage caused by wild weather that swept through the south yesterday.

A Pisa Mooring resident said she watched her father's 9-metre pontoon boat lift into the air and spin three times before landing on her neighbour's lawn about 11am.

Jade McLellan, 21, said she first noticed the twister lifting her neighbour's trampoline before it lifted the pontoon boat off its trailer.

"It was quite bizarre. It [the pontoon] weighs about 2 tonnes so it was strange it came off the trailer."

It was "squished like a pancake", she said.

Constable Patrick Henderson, of Cromwell, said the twister damaged a 50-square-metre area in the small town, and two other fences were damaged.


The area was known to be "twister-prone".

Firefighters were called to several properties throughout the southern region to secure loose roofing caused by strong winds. Skifields at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone were all closed because of the wild weather.

Flights in and out of Queenstown Airport were also delayed or cancelled.

Air New Zealand communications executive Andrew Aitken said several flights to and from the region were diverted or cancelled, with affected passengers being accommodated on other air services or transported by road.

Thunder and lightning struck parts of the south, and heavy rains prompted Environment Southland to activate its online flood warning service.

Environment Southland flood duty officer Andrew Kirk said some major rivers, such as the Oreti River and Hamilton Burn in the Takitimu Mountains, were expected to reach trigger levels.

Yesterday, more than 30 millimetres of rain fell at Hamilton Burn, and it was pushed to 1 metre above normal at Waterloo Rd, and was rising, he said.

Some Southlanders also experienced power outages yesterday.

PowerNet general manager Gary Pritchard said high winds caused a power outage affecting 25 customers at Awarua, between Invercargill and Bluff, about 9.30am.

Electricity was restored within 10 minutes and other customers in the south may have experienced a momentary "dip" in power.

The NZ Transport Agency warned drivers of motorcyclesand high-sided vehicles and those towing caravans to exercise caution on southern roads because of high winds. The Milford road was closed because of snow.

MetService meteorologist John Law said parts of Southland experienced severe gales of up to 120kmh, while winds up to 150kmh hit Stewart Island.

The winds were expected to ease last night but southerners could still expect strong northwesterly winds today reaching speeds of about 50kmh, Mr Law said.

Snow is expected to 400 metres tonight, with cold southerlies bringing frosts and lower temperatures throughout the southern region tomorrow and Friday.

The Southland Times