Highway closed as heavy weather hits North Island

Rain, gales and thunderstorms are battering parts of the lower North Island today, and torrential rain is already affecting the Kapiti Coast.

The coastal stretch of State Highway 1 between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay will be closed for several hours this morning after a major slip.

New Zealand Transport Agency spokesman Mike Seabourne said all motorists should delay journeys in the area until further notice.

Detours are unavailable because the Paekakariki Hill Road is also affected by slips and flooding. Train services have also been suspended.

Contractors were on the scene removing the slip, which is about 40 cubic metres in volume, Mr Seabourne said.

"It's been one of the wettest weeks in recent memory, and this has taken its toll by causing slips across the local transport network.

"We know how frustrating it is to miss appointments, work and other commitments, and we assure motorists that our contractors will be working furiously to get the road safely reopened."

Conditions across the entire transport network were slippery so it was important any motorists watch following distances and speed, he said.

Motorists should also prepare in advance for travel plans later in the day, he said.

Severe weather warning

A severe weather warning was put in place by MetService at 6am for Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty and the Tararua Range, including the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua.

Residents in the capital as well as Whanganui, Taihape, Taumarunui and parts of the upper South Island should also batten down the hatches as heavy rain and severe gales sweep the areas.

The wild weather was being caused by a number of fronts moving up the country, MetService meteorologist Emma Blades said.

"There's periods of rain and then it clears slightly and then another period of rain so it's looking quite showery over the next few days for much of the country.

"People need to stay safe, particularly take care out on the road. There's likely to be some surface flooding with these high rain falls. Where there's high winds as well, take care," Ms Blades said.

The heaviest falls were expected around Mt Taranaki and the ranges near Wellington and the eastern Bay of Plenty where up to 150mm of rain could accumulate.

There has already been 40mm of rain within the last two hours in Paraparaumu alone, she said.

Surface flooding in the suburb has caused a car crash, where no one was injured, and delays on the Kapiti train line for commuters.

There was also a chance of early evening thunderstorms for the areas and severe gales in Wellington, Taranaki, Wanganui and Taihape.

Parts of the upper South Island, including the Nelson ranges and Malborough Sounds, could also experience some heavy rain, Ms Blades said.

Aucklanders will not be exempt from the wet weather, with showers turning to heavier rain and possible thunderstorms later this afternoon.

Friday and Saturday might be quite wet as well, she said.

"There is showers hanging around for a while. It's pretty typical [for this time of year].

"There's quite a lot of fronts moving up through the country."

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