Easter storm batters South Island
A major storm sweeping the country is set to hammer the South Island again today.
Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast have been hit with heavy rain and strong winds overnight, causing slips, felling trees and cutting power to homes.
Many roads are closed but authorities hope the weather will improve this morning to allow staff out to clear those blocked by debris.
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Bad weather was expected to be centred around the north and east of the South Island today, MetService forecaster Richard Finnie said, while Otago could expect to be battered by heavy rain and wind today.
Southern Communications Centre shift commander Inspector Rick Dury said: "In a general sense, the top half of the South Island is experiencing bad weather. We've got a lot of surface flooding - a lot of trees etc down.
"Obviously a few of the State Highways are blocked and we're clearing those this morning."
Ripped off roofs and flooding sparked calls to the Fire Service in the South Island overnight.
Fire Service southern communications shift manager Andrew Norris said worst hit areas were Greymouth and Westport.
"The weather that's causing the damage seems to have eased. It looks like most of our day will be spent cleaning up," he said.
A Christchurch City Council spokesman said 65 millimetres of rain fell across the city overnight and 180 mm in Akaroa.
All river levels were high and the Heathcote River has flooded.
Rainfall throughout Christchurch and Banks Peninsula was easing and should start clearing by around 9am.
High tide was due at 7.51am at Ferrymead but wasn't expected to create further issues.
WEATHER CANCELS FLIGHTS
The weather has forced the cancellation of some flights out of Christchurch.
Flights to Dunedin and Rotorua from Christchurch Airport were cancelled this morning.
Airport staff were kept busy printing new boarding passes and answering passengers' travel-related questions.
Arrivals were also disrupted, with some inbound flights, including those from Hokitika, Blenheim and Dunedin, cancelled.
Christchurch Airport spokeswoman Yvonne Densem said Christchurch airport was open and operating, but regional services were affected.
"Wellington and Auckland airports are fine as far as we can tell. The jet planes operating between the three main centres are not having any issues. Just the smaller planes," she said.
WEST COAST MOVES INTO CLEAN-UP MODE
The West Coast was yesterday hammered by destructive winds which ripped roofs of buildings and cut power.
In Westport this morning Mitre 10 has fired up a generator and is open so people who need to do urgent repairs can gather supplies.
The store's assistant manager Troy Scanlon said trong winds cut power to the area and it was not known when it would be back up. Winds eased last night but it was raining heavily this morning, he said.
"It's pretty bad. A lot of people have lost roofs," Scanlon said.
"When the gusts hit you struggled to stand up. People have lived their whole lives here and never seen anything like it."
Scanlon said staff had given up their public holiday and had come in to work.
"This is the first Good Friday and the only Good Friday we'll be opening.
"Obviously we'll get raided pretty quick. Tarps have pretty much gone already.
"The good thing about a small town is that people will pitch in and help out."
Fifty vehicles, including campervans and trucks, spent the night stranded at Springs Junction after State Highway 7 - Lewis Pass - to Greymouth closed. The road had now re-opened.