Weather warnings still in place for many

Surface flooding is still affecting parts of the North Island late this afternoon and motorists are being urged to drive to the conditions.

The MetService has a number of severe weather warnings in play at the moment, including severe southeast gales for parts of central New Zealand and heavy rain in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.

Heavy rain is expected to ease back tonight, but up to 70 to 90mm of rain is expected to fall late this afternoon and into the evening -- causing surface flooding and high rivers even through to tomorrow morning.

Forecaster Allister Gorman said late this afternoon: "Certainly, in terms of rain, that will make driving conditions a little difficult through those areas."

The local Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management group has called for drivers in the Gisborne region to take "special care" on the roads tonight or, better yet, stay home.

Spokeswoman Louise Bennett said: "While the large fronts coming through have flattened off, we are expecting the rain to ramp up from about 4pm today and then increase in intensity between 10pm and about 2am tomorrow."

Gorman said strong winds over much of the country also meant drivers needed to be careful, particularly those in large vehicles such as caravans.

He said there was a possibility of some snow falling on Desert Road, in the Waikato, and over Porters Pass and Lewis Pass in the South Island.

A rain watch is also still in place over the Tararua and wider Wairarapa areas, as well as for the Bay of Plenty, which earlier experienced flooding and slips.

Gorman said: "The Coromandel's still got some flooded roads, even though the heavy rain has not been there for quite a while.

"There's still some cleaning to do probably around the Coromandel to Auckland area, which does have a few showers. Overall, that's not going to create a lot of extra rain -- it's just will slow down some of those places draining."

The police earlier closed off State Highway 2, north of Katikati, due to flooding; while Southern Police urged motorists to drive carefully after icy roads lead to a number of incidents of vehicles sliding.

The weather is forecast to be better by midday tomorrow and will be sunny for much of the country on Sunday and Monday.

"By the middle of tomorrow, things should have eased right back and Sunday and Monday are looking quite good days for a winter school holiday," Gorman said.

A front is due to move over Auckland towards Northland overnight, meaning for a few more showers. But that is not expected to bring huge amounts of rain.

"In the North Island, in particular, there's still spots where there's very strong winds -- and there is the rain -- but by midday tomorrow, that should be looking a lot better," Gorman said.

"The South Island have got issues with rain, but it's quite windy in the northern half of the South Island. And there's a little bit of snow in Porters Pass and Lewis Pass.

"The main trouble in the South Island tomorrow, if anyone is out early, they'll just have to watch for frosty conditions and there might be a little bit of black ice on a couple of roads."


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