The Christmas plans of thousands of travellers were thrown
into turmoil after thick fog in Wellington forced the
cancellation of more than 100 flights.
The cancellations came as the remnants of Cyclone Evan
brought severe weather warnings and heavy rain to Northland
last night, and a bleak outlook for Christmas Day and Boxing
A thick, low fog in Wellington yesterday afternoon forced
Jetstar and Air New Zealand to cancel all flights for the
rest of the day.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said about 100 flights had
been cancelled, causing disruption to several thousand
passengers. Services were not due to resume until 9am today.
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."
A Jetstar spokesman said eight flights between Auckland and
Wellington and four flights between Wellington and
Christchurch had been cancelled.
"We've got plenty of seats and we've put extra services on to
get, I imagine, everyone into Wellington for Christmas."
Meanwhile, MetService issued a severe weather warning for the
upper North Island.
Forecasters advised civil defence to prepare for 70mm to
100mm of rain over 12 hours, described as particularly heavy
MetService forecaster Chris Noble said Northland, Coromandel
and the Bay of Plenty would get showers tonight and on
Christmas Day. But rain and strong winds should ease during
Boxing Day and Thursday.