Thousands of homes remain without power and rail lines north
of Dunedin are closed as the storm which battered the South
yesterday moves north.
Some Canterbury residents can expect to be without power for
up to five days.
Lines company Orion's Chief executive Rob Jamieson said power
was out to 17,000 Orion customers this morning, down from
28,000 overnight when strong winds affected power lines
across the network.
Most power cuts were due to trees or branches falling onto
Power had been restored to most of urban Christchurch, and
affected areas were predominantly in the rural region west of
the city, Mr Jamieson said.
Half of Orion's major rural substations were without power
and teams were continuing to assess the extent of the damage,
"Until we are able to bring the substations back on line, it
is difficult to determine the extent of the damage throughout
the rest of our rural network.
A severe weather watch is in place for Waitomo, Waikato,
Marlborough and Nelson.
A burst of heavy rain in Waikato and Waitomo was expected
tomorrow, senior forecaster Erick Brenstrum said.
"An active front should move slowly north over the South
Island to lie across Cook Strait at midnight tonight.
"It should then cross the North Island on Thursday. This
front is preceded by a very strong northwest flow and there
are warnings for severe gales for many areas."
Northwest gales could reach severe gale force in Nelson and
inland parts of Marlborough today, Mr Brenstrum said.
Over Westland, widespread severe gales were no longer
expected, but a watch was in place for severe thunderstorms
which may produce wind gusts exceeding 120km/h over localised
"People in these areas are advised to stay up to date with
the latest forecasts."
A KiwiRail spokeswoman said rail lines were closed between
Blenheim and Dunedin, and between Haast and Rolleston due to
extremely high winds which brought trees down over the tracks
"We've also got a number of level crossings out of action but
there's no trains running on them.
"We've had staff on-site since first light making repairs. We
expect an update later this morning."
In Wellington, a tree which fell over the tracks on the
Wairarapa line this morning caused a 20 minute delay, but the
service has since resumed, the spokeswoman said.
Power out in Canterbury
Canterbury residents have woken up this morning to downed
trees, power cuts, roofs damaged and tiles lifted, the Fire
Since yesterday afternoon, the service has answered more than
1000 calls from locals reporting damage to their properties
from savage winds that tore through the area.
Those gusts were now heading up the country and will hit the
capital about midday.
About 19,000 Canterbury customers remain without power and
lines company Orion said while the wind was still strong,
there was no time frame on when power will be reconnected.
Orion's chief executive Rob Jamieson said at the storm's
worst, 28,000 customers were without power overnight.
Fires ignited in rural areas overnight.
A large blaze burnt about 200ha of forest at Ashley Forest,
west of Amberley, southern fire communications shift manager
Brent Dun said. The blaze was now contained.
Another large fire at a plantation west of Kaikoura was
ignited by a downed powerline, Mr Dun said.
"Rural fire are in attendance there and are on top of
Numerous other vegetation fires overnight had been
"They've been caused by power lines being knocked down,
lightning strikes and previous controlled burns which have
just been whipped up by the winds," Mr Dun said.
"Really today it's about mopping up and seeing to the public
- seeing if they're okay and helping out with damaged
The wild weather has caused disruptions to air traffic, with
flights to and from Christchurch and Wellington affected.
A Christchurch Airport spokeswoman said the airport was
closed for a couple of hours overnight but reopened at 1.30am
today. Flights were operating as normal this morning.
In the capital, the airport remains open this morning but
some flights to and from Wellington Airport have been
diverted or cancelled due to high winds.
An airport spokeswoman said passengers should check whether
their flight has been affected, either on the airport or
their airline's website.
Flights to and from Auckland Airport were unaffected, other
than those disrupted due to the weather at other centres.
MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the weather
front was a "dogs dinner, and it's not done yet".
Norwesterlies from the active front over central parts of the
South Island brought wind gusts up to around 130km/h at
Christchurch Airport last night, Mr Corbett said.
"Some of the surrounding hills got gusts up over 150km/h."
The storm also brought heavy rain and thunderstorms, Mr
In the last two hours there had been more than 3000 lightning
strikes in the front across all of New Zealand.
"Most of them have been centred off the South Island. It is
just lit up like a Christmas tree."
The rain had been "piling in", he said.
In the past 24 hours Arthurs Pass had seen 265mm of rain and
Mount Cook village had 247mm of rain fall.
The front was moving north with all of its rain into northern
Westland and Buller, Mr Corbett said.
"We still have loads of warnings for the rain and of course
the wind which is still strong through Cook Strait for much
of the day, and then the wind's focus will shift more towards
Hawke's Bay [and] Gisborne."