Inter-island ferries have been suspended after the storm that
battered the South Island today whipped up 7-metre waves in
the Cook Strait.
The 2pm sailing from Picton to Wellington turned back when
waves reached 5m and all further crossings are on hold while
the storm makes its way north, a KiwiRail spokeswoman said.
Conditions would be assessed through the evening and a
decision would be made later on when sailings could resume,
The wild storm ripped its way up the South Island through the
day, with winds peaking at 140km/h, bringing trees down on
power lines, lifting roofs and blowing out house windows.
At 3.30pm, 2500 Orion customers were still without power,
down from 7000 earlier.
The MetService has issued strong wind warnings for
Christchurch, the Banks Peninsula, coastal Kaikoura and the
Otago Peninsula north to Oamaru.
Severe southwest gales with gusts of up to 140kmh are
expected in some areas.
The winds have brought down trees and powerlines, causing
power outages for thousands of people in the Christchurch
Power company Orion's website said 5276 customers were
without power as of 11.30am.
The gales have also kept firefighters busy, with more than 50
wind-related incidents since this morning.
Most were for downed trees and power lines, smashed windows,
flying trampolines and lifting roofs.
Southern fire communications shift manager Karl Patterson
said four people had been trapped in vehicles by downed lines
The occupants of one car on Hoon Hay Rd waited for
firefighters to remove fallen lines from their car about 9am.
The lines turned out to be telecommunications cables and the
occupants were uninjured.
Occupants of another car faced a terrifying 45 minute wait
after a live 11KV power line came down on their car in Kainga
"Obviously the people had to remain in the vehicle until the
power could be isolated ... I'd say it would be very
terrifying," Mr Patterson said.
The power was isolated and the occupants were uninjured, he
Mr Patterson said the wind had started picking up this
morning and the incidents peaked by about 10am.
"It wasn't too bad overnight but after 6.30am it started
kicking off. Akaroa and Lyttelton took a bit of a hammering
first thing this morning - it was predominantly roofs lifting
or parts of roofs lifting, loose roofing iron, that sort of
Trees had come down on houses in Halswell and Strowan and
power lines in Sumner.
In Heathcote Valley, a shed roof had blown off and landed on
a neighbour's roof.
Roofing iron had also lifted from homes in central
Christchurch, Hillsborough, Lyttelton, Burwood, Phillipstown,
Merivale, Birdling's Flat, Aranui, Bishopdale and New
Windows had also been smashed in the gales.
The conservatory windows of a Cashmere home were blown out,
and in Cass Bay, a sun room was blown apart and a roof flew
off and smashed a neighbour's window.
Trampolines had also caused havoc, with one landing on power
lines in Southshore and another ending up on a garage roof in
The MetService said severe southwest gales could gust up to
120kmh in Otago before easing this evening.
On the Banks Peninsula, the gales could gust up to 140kmh
before spreading to coastal Kaikoura this morning and easing
Strong winds are also expected in the lower North Island
The MetService has issued strong wind warnings for coastal
Wairarapa and Wellington, where southwest winds are expected
to rise to severe gales, gusting 120kmh, this afternoon.
The winds should ease tomorrow morning.
Cold start to March
Just four days into March and summer seems like a long time
ago, with a low pressure system pushing temperatures down and
It was just 8degC in Dunedin this morning with showers and
WeatherWatch.co.nz predicted a high of just 12degC for the
Dunedin could expect strong to gale-force winds today from
the southwest which would make it feel even colder,
A high of just 13degC is excpected in Christchurch and
Wellington is also exposed to a cold southerly today and a
high of 17degC is forecast.
While summer-like daytime highs would return to parts of New
Zealand later this week the cold change in the eastern South
Island may linger longer, Weather Watch said.
Highs in Dunedin were expected to hover around the low teens
for much of this week while Christchurch should warm up again
to the late teens.
Main centres for Tuesday:
- Dunedin: Showers, southwesterlies gusting to 120kmh, high
- Auckland: High of 20degC, fine spells and showers, fresh
- Hamilton: High of 21degC, fine spells and showers, fresh
- Wellington: Afternoon showers, some heavy, gales gusting to
100kmh. High of 17degC.
- Christchurch: Heavy rain, southwesterlies gusting to
130kmh, high of 14degC.