Thousands of travellers have had their Christmas plans thrown
into turmoil after fog at Wellington airport today forced the
cancellation of more than 100 flights.
A thick, low fog rolled in during the afternoon, forcing both
Jetstar and Air New Zealand to cancel all flights into and
out of the capital for the rest of the day.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said about 100 flights had
been cancelled, causing disruptions to "several thousand
Services were not due to resume until 9am tomorrow.
"Air New Zealand apologises for the inconvenience to
passengers at this busy time of year; however, the fog
conditions are such that it is impossible to continue normal
The airline was looking at putting on extra flights into
Wellington tomorrow to accommodate disrupted passengers.
A Jetstar spokesman said eight flights between Auckland and
Wellington and four flights between Wellington and
Christchurch had been cancelled.
Six more flights had been added to the schedule tomorrow to
accommodate travellers whose flights were disrupted.
"It's unfortunate timing before Christmas Eve, but I guess
the weather is the weather," the spokesman said.
"We've got plenty of seats and we've put extra services on to
get, I imagine, everyone into Wellington for Christmas."
Former TVNZ news boss Bill Ralston had been due to fly to
Nelson via Wellington but was among the hundreds of
passengers stuck in Auckland.
"I'm at the airport. It's madness," he said.
"They cancelled three flights in a row, at once, so there was
a mad rush for the baggage hall, and then everybody was
wandering around in circles wondering what to do next."
He said people seemed to be in remarkably good spirits
despite the cancellations.
Ralston said he had "retreated to a nearby airport hotel" and
had booked a direct flight to Nelson for tomorrow.
Wellington Airport spokesman Greg Thomas said today's thick
fog was unusual.
"It doesn't usually last this long, and it's quite set in at
the moment. There's a southerly breeze blowing but the fog
just doesn't seem to be letting up at the moment."
Mr Thomas said passengers should check their flight's status
on the airport's website or with their airline, and in some
cases they may need to re-book their flights.
MetService duty forecaster Philippa Murdoch said the fog
could stick around until at least tomorrow morning.
Before the cancellations, flights out of the capital had been
delayed by at least three hours, while others had been
diverted to Palmerston North or Nelson.
Fog also brought Wellington Airport to a halt on Tuesday,
with about 40 flights in and out of the city cancelled.
Meanwhile, MetService this morning issued a severe weather
warning for the upper North Island, as the remnants of
Cyclone Evan pushed over the country just in time for
A deep low - which was formerly the cyclone - would lie north
of Northland tonight, then just west of Cape Reinga by the
end of tomorrow, before drifting to the west of the North
Island on Christmas Day, MetService advised.
Rain was expected to become heavy this afternoon, and
continue through Monday and into Christmas Day.
The heaviest rain would hit Northland, Auckland north of
Whangaparoa, and the Coromandel Peninsula north of Tairua.
MetService warned holidaymakers and trampers that rivers and
streams could rise rapidly and that slips and surface
flooding was possible.
Ms Murdoch said the rain in Northland would become heavy this
evening, and then ease in the morning.
There could then be another burst of heavy rain on Christmas
Day in the upper North Island.
WeatherWatch analyst Aaron Wilkinson said by Boxing Day the
low would weaken and move east, bringing a period of rain to
most of the country.
The lower South Island could remain fairly dry, he said.