Strong northwest winds are creating problems in Otago today,
felling power lines, fanning a large scrub fire and prompting
warnings for motorists.
The winds, which were forecast to tear through the region at
speeds up to 130kmh, are helping spread a large scrub fire
above Fruitlands on the Old Man range south of Alexandra.
The fire broke out about midday today and is burning on two
fronts, estimated at 1.5km long, about 600m above State
Highway 8 between Alexandra and Roxburgh.
One front is burning south along the mountain and the other
uphill towards the snow line.
Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk, of Alexandra, said the strong
winds meant the fire front was travelling rapidly.
''At this stage we do not believe that there are any houses
in danger but that could change rapidly and we are assessing
The cause is not known.
In the Queenstown area, Glenorchy Rd was blocked late this
afternoon at Wilsons Bay by multiple fallen trees. The road
reopened about 7pm.
Earlier, the council recommend that people steer clear of
"heavily treed" areas such as Queenstown Hill, where a tree
has come down, due to high winds.
Three power lines were brought down at Queenstown Hill this
morning. They are believed to have been taken out when a tree
fell in the winds this morning.
The Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to the site
just after 11.10am.
A spokesman said the high voltage lines were the main lines
Both Coronet Peak and the Remarkables ski areas were closed
today due to the high winds - gusting up to 140kmh at the
Remarkables and over 100kmh at Coronet Peak.
They are expected to reopen tomorrow.
This morning two inbound flights - one from Air New Zealand
and one from Virgin were diverted to Christchurch Airport due
to gusting crosswinds, causing the cancellation of two
outbound flights from Queenstown Airport.
Meanwhile, motorists travelling in the region have been urged
to take care in the strong winds.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has cautions in place for
several roads, including Dunedin's Northern Motorway; State
Highway 85 - Alexandra-Palmerston; and SH87 -
The news doesn't get much better for the weekend, as a
southerly change is predicted to race up the country,
bringing periods of heavy rain to many areas.
Heavy falls were expected about the Southern Alps and west of
the South Island until tomorrow, and should develop about Mt
Taranaki today and the Tararua ranges tomorrow, MetService
said this morning.
Heavy rain was expected in Fiordland, Westland south of
Otira, and the headwaters of the Otago and Canterbury lakes
and rivers, from about Arthur's Pass south.