A severe weather warning has been issued for Dunedin and
North Otago as rain and strong winds brought by ex-cyclone
Ita sweep down the country.
The wild weather has caused chaos in the upper North Island
today, and MetService says the South Island will feel the
sting later today and into Easter weekend.
Already, NZTA is advising of highway closures on the West
In Otago, rain is expected to pick up this evening and become
heavy at times early tomorrow morning.
About 120mm to 180mm is expected about higher parts of North
Otago from midnight tonight to midnight tomorrow, and 50mm to
90mm elsewhere, including Dunedin.
People are advised to watch out for rapidly rising streams
and rivers, surface flooding, slips, and hazardous driving
Ugly weather is continuing to crash into the country today,
but MetService says it is due to ease over the Easter
The atrocious conditions are being fuelled by ex-cyclone Ita,
which is battering Northland and Auckland as it sweeps down
Gale force winds and driving rain have caused road closures,
power outages and slips around the country.
"Once the strong winds and heavy rain ease away, it will look
far quieter and brighter. This should happen by Easter
Sunday," MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said.
The intense band of rain and strong to severe gales will sink
south to engulf central parts of the country by the end of
today followed by slowly improving weather in the far north.
The rest of Easter weekend will bring a few passing troughs
which could bring a bout of showers especially on the western
coast, whereas eastern areas will stay mainly dry, Mr Corbett
Meanwhile, holidaymakers were being urged to take "extreme
care" when travelling.
Winds gusted up to 98kp/h on the Auckland Harbour Bridge,
there was surface flooding on sections of the city's motorway
network, and debris littered rural state highways in both
regions, New Zealand Transport Agency said.
The storm also caused damage, power outages and disrupted
travel across Auckland city.
"We would encourage people going on holiday to do most of
their driving during daylight hours when there's more
visibility, particularly for those travelling on unfamiliar
rural roads," NZTA national journey manager Kathryn Musgrave
"Although the worst of the storm has passed, there is still a
risk of trees or branches loosened by the strong winds being
a hazard for drivers - particularly at night."
By 2pm today, the fire service had responded to 770 emergency
calls around the country related to weather.
Of those, 279 were in the Auckland region, 109 in Northland
and 61 each in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
At the storms peak, about 15,000 were without power.
Electricity company Vector said customers in Helensville,
Greenhithe, Mangere, Titirangi, Orakei, Remuera, and Takanini
had their power restored.
Customers remain without electricity in other localised
areas, however crews were repairing damaged lines along with
Treescape, clearing away branches, downed trees and other
debris, the company said.
The wild weather has closed State Highway 25 from Hikuai in
the south to Whitianga in the north.
Traffic was still using the Thames coast road, but there was
some flooding around Goldfields Road in Nanaia, police said.
Motorists were encouraged to delay any travel plans to the
peninsula until the roads were passable and open.
In Auckland, extensive flooding up to waist height in places
forced the closure of Tamaki Drive, from the Strand to
Kohimarama Road, from 9am today.
Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said the city's Civil
Defence and Emergency Management bunker had been activated as
the council dealt with reports of surface flooding, downed
trees, power cuts and debris.
Mr Walters warned there would also be localised surface
flooding "all over then place".
At Devonport on the North Shore, a trimaran apparently broke
free of its moorings and washed ashore. Photos show the yacht
perched precariously on the footpath and foreshore of the
Firefighters in the north of the country have been "flat
tack" responding to wind damage this morning, with west
Auckland and the North Shore apparently worst affected.
Northern fire communications operations manager Eric Smith
said there had been a lot of calls to trees down on roads or
power lines. There had also been calls to roofing tiles
In Wellington, strong winds gusting to 120km/h, and possibly
140km/h in exposed places, were expected today.
The wild weather has already brought damage to the capital,
with slips blocking a road in Karori and forcing the
evacuation of two buildings in Oriental Bay.
The first slip came down from the hillside behind an
apartment building on Oriental Parade about 9.30pm yesterday.
A water main also burst, and two buildings were evacuated.
A second slip blocked Nottingham St shortly before 6am today.
Further south, heavy rain was expected from about midday.
Holidaymakers are being urged to avoid all but essential
travel to Coromandel as several key routes are closed due to
flooding, slips and fallen trees, although some roads are
reopening after foul weather forced their closure throughout
Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend said the Thames Coast Road was
open, allowing access to Coromandel Town and Whitianga.
State Highway 25 between Waihi and Whangamata was also open.
However, SH25A - Kopu Hikuai Road - was closed and would be
for some hours yet, Mr Friend said.
SH25 south of Whitianga was also closed near to Wade Road,
preventing travel between Tairua and Whitianga.
"Caution is urged on all coastal roads as the tide is coming
in and high tide may well cause further road closures,'' he
Bay of Plenty motorists were also asked to disregard messages
on electronic signs at Thames because they were incorrect and
were unable to be changed due to a technical issue.
By 4pm today, the fire service had responded to 1071
emergency calls around the country related to weather.