Dunedin-bound flight hit by lightning

Lightning has struck a Dunedin-bound plane today as wild weather batters much of the country.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said NZ681 from Wellington to Dunedin was diverted to Christchurch this morning after encountering lightning.

The spokeswoman said lightning strikes were not uncommon and aircraft were designed with this in mind, and pilots were trained for such events.

Passengers were accommodated on alternative services, she said.

Other turboprop flights in and out of Wellington were also affected by the weather, Stuff reported.

Some services between Auckland and New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Christchurch and Blenheim had also been cancelled or delayed due to the conditions.

According to MetService, in the North Island there were scores of lightning strikes this morning, mostly around Wellington and Taranaki, while in the South Island there had been about 1200 in the past 24 hours.

Wild and wet weather wreaked havoc this morning, flooding many parts of Wellington as the capital was hammered by gusts of up to 117kmh.

Police are advising motorists on State Highway 5 that high winds are currently affecting the area while a campervan on its side is blocking southbound lane about 2km south of Te Haroto.

"This partial blockage may remain for some time until the winds subside and the campervan can be removed," a police spokeswoman said.

MetService meteorologist Andrew James said the active front was now slightly east of Great Barrier Island, which was still experiencing a few lightning strikes.

"There is still a risk of some thunderstorms this evening and tonight" but they would be localised, he said.

Meanwhile, Vector readied power crews in Auckland as the active cold front carrying a band of heavy rain charged quickly north towards the City of Sails.

MetService has advised a period of strong winds is expected in Auckland this afternoon, with gusts over 70km/h possible and winds that may approach severe gale in exposed places.

Vector's Head of Network Field Services Marko Simunac said Vector was keeping a close eye on the weather and has readied crews to respond to any power outages.


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