'Biblical' rain falls in wrong areas

The heavy downpours which have brought flooding to parts of Auckland and Wellington have not hit farming areas most desperate for rain, Federated Farmers says.

The wild weather left more than 1000 homes without power in Auckland last night, and the deluge reportedly blew out manhole covers on some Wellington roads.

But Federated Farmers adverse events spokeswoman Katie Milne said while the rain had broken the drought in most parts of the country, the exceptions were the areas which had been affected the longest.

"Farmers are gutted to see biblical quantities of rain falling while they are lucky to scrape up more than a few millimetres.

"It is fair to say our areas of concern have now shrunk. What remains a concern is for those farms still in drought because it looks like being 'first in, last out'."

While much of Rotorua got a good soaking, drought-stricken Reporoa remained dry.

Parts of Gisborne city were now out of the woods, but the driest areas of the region were lucky to get 6mm of rain.

"Farmers in central Hawkes Bay are now really under the hammer. The exceptions are farms right under the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges," Ms Milne said.

"Federated Farmers can only hope that Niwa is on the button with its benign seasonal outlook for early winter. This drought came incredibly late and that to us has been the most unusual thing about it."

WeatherWatch said the centre of a low pushed over land in southwest Auckland this afternoon. Showers and wind were expected to ease.

Power was still out for hundreds of Auckland homes, mostly in the west, Vector spokeswoman Sandy Hodge said. Crews were working to reconnect them.

"Crews have just been flat out all night and it's been atrocious conditions."

An Auckland fire communications spokesman said this morning that the Fire Service had been called to about 20 weather-related jobs overnight.

The Fire Service said crews were responding to multiple flooding incidents in the inner city, with Newtown, Kilbirnie and Lyall Bay the worst affected.

Wellington City Council received more than 150 calls about flooding this morning. The council advised motorists to use extreme caution and, if possible, avoid driving until the heavy rain eases.

Flooding affected streets in the CBD, Kilbirnie, Brooklyn, Newtown, Island Bay, Melrose, Hataitai, Lyall Bay, Wilton and Karori.

There were also reports of surface water entering businesses in the CBD, the council said.

There were reports of manhole covers being blown out on some roads, including Karori Rd.

Fire Service communications said nine trucks had been in the city responding to flooding calls. Metlink has posted a warning on its website that bus services have been affected by the weather causing delays in the CBD.

Meanwhile, Cantabrians were warned by health authorities to avoid beaches and rivers after heavy rain put pressure on the region's sewerage system.

Christchurch City Council said sewage overflow discharges had gone into the Avon/Otakaro River, Heathcote/Opawaho River and Akaroa Harbour.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey said water quality in the Avon and Heathcote Rivers rarely met recreational water standards, but at the moment both rivers were particularly contaminated and contact with the waterways should be avoided.

"People should in general avoid rivers and the beaches for at least two days after any significant rainfall event, not only this one. This means it's not safe to drink water from rivers or use the rivers or estuary for recreational use," he said.


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