More than 4200 homes are without power this afternoon as
strong winds continue to batter the country.
Gusts have brought down trees and flung other debris, which
have brought down several overhead lines, disconnecting
around 3000 properties in Wairarapa, Manawatu and Whanganui.
In Canterbury around 1200 people have no power, down from
1400 earlier today.
Homes in Wairarapa have been worst hit, with approximately
2300 customers without electricity, Powerco said. In Manawatu
around 400 customers are without power, and around 300 homes
in Whanganui have been disconnected.
However, with gales of up to 130 km/h forecast to hit
Wairarapa this evening, the power company warned customers to
expect further possible outages.
Network operations manager Phil Marsh urged members of the
public to keep clear of any damaged lines.
"Power lines that have fallen to the ground may look safe but
they're very often still live. Live lines can kill,'' he
"Keep yourselves, your children, pets and livestock well away
from any downed lines and call Powerco.''
Mr Marsh said extra crews had been called in to restore power
and make lines safe. Around 50 field staff were working in
the affected areas.
A large scaffolding structure has also collapsed in central
Wellington due to the winds, with no reports of injuries.
Falling trees have have also toppled power lines in
Canterbury, leaving more than 1200 homes without power,
according to Orion. The company said it expects to restore
electricity by 6pm.
In mid-Canterbury a number of schools have also been forced
to close due to outages.
Mount Hutt College, Methven Primary, Our Lady of the Snows,
Lauriston School, Carew Peel Forest School, Mt Somers
Springburn School and Mayfield School have all closed today.
Trees are reportedly down on State Highway 72 Arundel Rakaia
Rd, while the Arundel ridge looks likely to close because of
Workers in Wellington are being advised to plan a safe
journey home as high winds continue to rip through the city.
Wellington police, the Transport Agency and Wellington City
Council have issued a warning for the public, saying gusts
are set to continue into rush hour.
"It is likely that high winds will still be hitting the city
and commuters should consider the safest way to get home
tonight,'' the agencies said in a joint statement.
The warning comes after a white Toyota Hiace van, travelling
southbound on the SH1 Johnsonville motorway, overturned just
after 1pm today.
Cyclists, motorbikes and high-sided vehicles are at most
risk, however all drivers "should be driving with extreme
care or cancelling unnecessary travel where possible'', the
Pedestrians have also been warned, as high winds are
affecting city streets, particularly around Featherston and
Whitmore Street areas.
Commuters should be wary of fallen trees or branches, as well
as downed power lines. Coastal areas should watch out for sea
spray and debris washed onto roads.
The majority of flights to and from Wellington International
Airport have been cancelled until further notice due to
severe weather in the capital, a statement from the airport
Canterbury farmers have been battered by the wild storm and
high winds, but appear to have emerged largely unscathed.
The region suffered serious damage to thousands of trees and
expensive dairy farm irrigation systems in last month's
40-year storm where gale force winds topped 130km/h.
While the winds that ripped through today were "certainly
pretty rough'', the worst of it has passed, according to
Rakaia farmer Gary McGregor.
While it was "still blowing pretty hard'', they were prepared
this time round, he said.
Irrigators, which bore the brunt last month, were put down on
Cow sheds damaged last month were the biggest worry, Mr
McGregor said, and they're currently tacking the rooftops
"We've had a few tress down that didn't go in the last one,''
said Mr McGregor.
"We got really bombed last month, and while this one was
pretty serious, it seems like we've escaped the worst of
Federated Farmers spokeswoman Katie Milne has received
reports of more trees down, and power outages in the Methven
and Springfield area.
"It's a bit frustrating. They've had it rough over the last
month or so.''
This time round, however, farmers were more prepared for the
winds and were able to be proactive and batten down the
She warned people to wait until the wind had calmed down
before checking out their properties for damage.
Metservice meteorologist Daniel Corbett said parts of
Canterbury were this morning being hit by extremely strong
gusts, with 200km/h recorded on Mt Hutt.
Motorists have been advised to avoid travelling on the
Milford Rd today as high winds and driving rain make
The Transport Agency has issued a warning, asking people to
put off all non-essential travel on the road.
The Milford R re-opened from the Hollyford turn-off to
Milford Sound at 1pm today, after being closed since 5pm last
night because of heavy rain.
More than 157mm of rain fell between midnight and 1pm today
the Transport Agency said, causing surface flooding and
felling a large tree onto the highway at Walker Creek.
Poor weather is expected to continue to make this section of
the highway difficult throughout today and tonight, with snow
also being predicted.
"It is essential motorists carry chains if they have are
travelling this route. Before setting off they should also
phone 0800 44 44 49, or go to www.highwayinfo.govt.nz for the
latest on road conditions,'' said Transport Agency senior
network manager Peter Robinson.
Milford Rd will close again at 5pm from the Hollyford
turn-off, with a decision on reopening made in the morning.
The wind in Wellington has also put the weekly Cabinet
meeting at risk as the flight cancellations prevented many
ministers making it to Wellington.
Prime Minister John Key's flight to Wellington this morning
was called off and minister Steven Joyce was diverted to
Mr Joyce tweeted he was now flying to Palmerston North and
driving to Wellington. Cabinet has been delayed until 2pm,
but could be cancelled altogether if the flight disruptions
The bad weather has also delayed the arrival of Canterbury's
first major cruise ship of the summer season.
Tomorrow's scheduled arrival of the Sea Princess into Akaroa
Harbour has been delayed until 6am on Wednesday.
Quieter weather is expected tomorrow.
- Patrice Dougan, Brendan Manning, Kurt Bayer