Wild weather batters the Waikato

09:56, Apr 18 2014
Wild weather, Waihi
A sea wall at Waihi is battered by the surf as Cyclone Ita's tail strikes New Zealand.
wild weather, waihi
Waihi Beach resident Sommer Ward stands in gale force winds.
wild weather, hamilton
At around 11am a street light toppled onto an car at the north end of Ulster St in Hamilton - there were no reported injuries.
wild weather, waikato
A fallen tree blocks one lane on River Rd near the Fairfield Bridge.
flooding, tirau
Heavy rain floods State Highway 23, Tairua Rd, Hikau.
weather, tairua
A fence buckled under the weight of a fallen tree in Tairua on Ocean Beach Road.
weather, hamilton
Strong wind fells a tree on Jellicoe Drive in Hamilton.
weather, hamilton
A free fell across Cambridge's Victoria St and Alpha St. One side of Victoria St was closed while workmen cut up the tree and removed it.
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Gale force winds ripped the roof from this house in Te Aroha.
weather, hamilton
Lisa McLean's trampoline made its final bounce today.
weather, waikato
The stormy weather begins to clear in Te Aroha.

Wild weather has all but shut down access to the Coromandel Peninsula as holidaymakers prepare to flock to the holiday destination for Easter.

As at 12.45pm, traffic trying to access Whangamata, Tairua or Pauanui via the Kopu-Hikuai Rd is being turned back due to flooding.

Water is also over the road at Manaia south of Coromandel.

Rain radar
RAIN RADAR: Wet over much of the north early this morning.

Waikato Police are advising against all but essential travel to or around the Coromandel.

Senior Sergeant Pete van de Wetering of the Waikato District Command Centre said police and council roading staff and traffic management crews are dealing with a number of slips, fallen trees and flooded roads.

"Currently the road to Tairua and Pauanui, SH25A the Kopu-Hikuai Rd is flooded while SH25, the route between Whangamata and Tairua is also closed."


Wild weather, Waihi
A sea wall at Waihi is battered by the surf as Cyclone Ita's tail strikes New Zealand.

Van de Wetering said another busy route - SH25 between Thames and Coromandel is currently flooded at Manaia while SH25 between Whitianga and Tairua is also closed.

"While SH25 between Waihi and Whangamata is still open, extreme caution is advised and another major route, SH2 between Paeroa and Waihi at the Karangahake Gorge, is marginal due to flooding and is expected to be closed by 3pm.''

Van de Wetering said the weather that has hammered the coast throughout the morning and hasn't let up.

Rain is forecasted to continue overnight and with a number of tidal changes flooding is expected to worsen and motorists are urged to check roading conditions tomorrow before heading out.

In Cambridge, Victoria Rd near intersection with Bellevue Rd is closed with felled trees and powerlines and was expected to be shut for about two hours.

State Highway 5 is now closed from the intersection with State Highway 1 south of Tirau through to Rotorua.

The closure is a result of trees falling on the road. Power was also cut to more than 1000 Waikato customers at 11am, WEL Networks customer services manager Brendon Maloney said.

Feeder power outages at both Gordonton and Tamahere have cut electricity to 500 customers each and there's a further 98 individual properties without power, he said.

''We're fully deployed with back up crews. There's 1100 to 1200 with no power and we're working to fix them.

''The larger faults are generally reconnected within two to four hours and crews will work through the rest as best they can," Maloney said.

Most outages earlier today were in the Raglan and Te Mata areas and were affecting individual homes.

Trees had also come down on roads in numerous locations, Waikato shift commander, senior sergeant Peter van de Wetering said.

There were reports of a satellite dish blocking one lane of the Waikato Expressway at Horotiu.

van de Wetering said the constable in Kawhia was out putting the chainsaw to use clearing roads.

rees or branches had also come down in Hahei, Whitianga, and Raglan.At around 11am a street light toppled onto an car at the north end of Ulster St in Hamilton - there were no reported injuries.

However a construction worker at the scene had been told the car was moving at the time.

''They would have got a bloody fright that's for sure,'' he said.

Earlier today Waikato Police spokesman Andrew McAlley said trees had fallen on both State Highway 30 near Benneydale in the King Country and at the bottom of the Kaimai Range on SH29.

High winds kept the fire service extremely busy in Northland early this morning and in Auckland a few hours later. The Waikato started feeling the sting from gale force easterly winds late morning.

Hamilton City Council has been flooded with calls as high winds tear off branches and topple trees around the city.

The parks unit is prioritising these calls and is urging residents to provide them with as much information as possible - the relevant street address, whether branches are down completely or still attached to trees, the estimated size of any limbs which have come down, and whether fallen branches are blocking roads, drains or footpaths.

The council, in a multi-department statement, asked residents to be patient as they deal with these jobs.

''We do have extra staff on-call for situations like this, but we're very busy."We've had one streetlight on Ulster Street sheer off completely due to the high wind, and that has done some damage to a motor vehicle, although the driver was uninjured.''

MetService said the wild weather would to hit today as a sub-tropical low shows its "fangs".

MetService media forecaster Daniel Corbett said the leading edge of former tropical cyclone Ita is due to lash the region from this morning.

He said northeasterly winds could reach a potentially damaging 120kmh in exposed places between 6am and 3pm. High points could also receive up to 100mils of rain, while lower areas could receive 60mils, he said.

"It's going to have some fangs to it for sure," Corbett said.

"This will have a large swathe of tropical moisture . . . it's inherently more humid and soupy and can carry loads more stuff."

It'll be "pretty ugly" right up until about mid-afternoon when the last front moves through.

"If folks are travelling on the roads it will be pretty unpleasant. If [holidaymakers] go up north they're going in a better direction. If they put all the kids in the back of the car and said right we're going at 3pm and they drive south they'll drive straight through the front," Corbett said.

In the Bay of Plenty, the Fire Service had responded to about 50 flooding-related calls this evening, a spokeswoman said.

Most of the calls had come from the Whakatane-Ohope region.

There had not been any reports of injuries, but some people had been forced to leave their houses, she said.