Thousands of travellers affected by Wellington fog

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 Day.

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 showers.

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.

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