Summer has finally returned to the country after a week of
heavy rain, gale force winds and, in some places, snow.
The last of the rain and wind should taper off today and most
of the country was expected to enjoy the sunshine on the
weekend, WeatherWatch.co.nz said.
Weather analyst Richard Green said the South Island could see
temperatures hitting 30C.
"It was only yesterday morning that snow fell to below 500
metres over central Otago and now tomorrow the thirties are a
"This pattern is more like spring than summer. However,
Sunday should see a cooling off again in the south later in
Yesterday, most temperatures across the country were a couple
of degrees below average for the time of year and Auckland
struggled to top 20C after plenty of warm days lately.
Overnight lows were also cooler than usual but tonight they
should climb a little higher and tomorrow night another
degree or two could be in the pipeline, Mr Green said.
However, windy conditions could return for a majority of the
country early next week as westerlies push in.
Heavy rain in the last few days washed out a bridge on State
Highway 6, just north of Harihari on the West Coast, cutting
off the region.
Floodwaters have prevented structural engineers from
inspecting the bridge.
Teams of contractors were working to clear the flood debris
and divert the river, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA)
spokesman Mark Pinner said yesterday.
NZTA was hoping to have a clearer picture today on how long
it would take to reopen the road, although it was expected to
The West Coast road via Lewis Pass through Murchison also had
to be closed, forcing travellers to make a seven-hour detour
around Blenheim and Kaikoura to get to the east coast of the
State Highway 65 between Murchison and Springs Junction
remained closed due to flooding, Mr Pinner said.
More than half a metre of rain fell in some areas of the West
Coast over the past two days.
The flood threat to the Waitaki River, brought on by the
heavy rain, has eased but holidaymakers in the Waitaki Lakes
and at Lake Pukaki were still being warned of rising water
levels as releasing excess water from hydro lakes starts.
Energy company Meridian began spilling water from Lake Pukaki
late on Wednesday night.
Meridian spokeswoman Michelle Brooker said a gradual spill
would take place for "a good few weeks", and added that
spills at Lake Ohau and Benmore may also be needed soon.
Environment Canterbury (ECan) duty flood controller Tony
Henderson said campers, hikers and recreational anglers
needed to be mindful of the possibility of rising water
levels in the Pukaki and Ohau Rivers, as well as all
catchment areas above Lake Waitaki and down the Waitaki
Snow in Queenstown delighted tourists on the Crown Range
between Wanaka and Queenstown yesterday morning.
Hundreds of tourists abandoned their cars and campers briefly
to make snowmen and take part in snow ball fights.
Snow also blanketed hills surrounding Queenstown. Most of the
snow had melted before midday, but not before tourists rushed
to get summer holiday pictures with a snowy backdrop.