Otago rain warnings extended

The seas were rough next to the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool this morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The seas were rough next to the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool this morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The rain warnings for Dunedin and North Otago have been extended with heavy downpours likely to continue until this evening.

The former tropical cyclone Gita lashed the top half of the South Island and parts of the North Island with damaging winds and torrential rain late yesterday and overnight and its tail end is still affecting parts of the south, with 14 roads closed in the Waitaki District.

Otago woke to persistent rain and a heavy rain warning in place for North Otago, where 14 roads were closed due to flooding, and Dunedin has now been extended to 6pm.

MetService said in Dunedin and North Otago a further 30 to 50mm of rain could accumulate from 9am to 6pm today, on top of what had already fallen.

Rainfall intensities of 5 to 10mm per hour were possible.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) this afternoon warned people to be cautious around rivers in Otago, some of which had reached warning levels and were still rising.

​The NZ Transport Agency has warnings in place for a number of roads across North and Central Otago due to surface flooding.

There had been few issues caused by Gita in Dunedin and despite the heavy rain warning, the Dunedin City Council (DCC) was not expecting major issues over the rest of today.

Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management warned motorists across Otago this morning to be prepared for disruptions.

"There's snow on the Crown Range, surface flooding on SH8 around Roxburgh, and major disruption in many places on the highways north of Otago."

ORC engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said the council was warning people to be cautious today as rivers were high and were likely to stay high even when the rain stopped.

"While the overall outlook is good, with no significant flooding expected based on current forecasts, caution should nonetheless be taken today – rivers are high, and likely to stay high even as the rain eases."

"Falling rivers could rise quickly again even with a little rain."

In North Otago, the Shag and Kakanui Rivers rose overnight to warning levels, which activated the ORC's alert systems to those directly affected. Neither were expected to rise much further.

Farm traffic continues to use a flooded Papakaio Rd, north of Oamaru, on Wednesday. Photo: Hamish...
Farm traffic continues to use a flooded Papakaio Rd, north of Oamaru, on Wednesday. Photo: Hamish MacLean
In Dunedin, the Water of Leith and Lindsay Creek were both rising slowly but were expected to stay well within their channels. Caution should be exercised near these rivers as they will remain high and swift.

The Silver Stream was rising with a peak expected around midday, while the Taieri River was expected to peak this evening.

Neither were expected to cause flooding at this stage, and the Gordon Road spillway is not expected to overflow.

In South Otago, the Pomahaka River also rose during the night to alert levels but was now dropping.

In the Waimate district there was widespread surface flooding and drivers were warned to dirve carfeully.

Surface flooding had closed roads across North Otago.

The Remarkables' base building. :Photo: supplied
The Remarkables' base building. :Photo: supplied

Snow fell on the Crown Range Road and at Coronet Peak and the Remarkables overnight.

Travel disruptions

The TranzAlpine tourist train was cancelled yesterday and again today.

On the roads, State Highway 1 north of Wellington, between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki, is closed this morning after seas washed over the road.

On the South Island's West Coast, several sections of highway are cut off, while in Otago roads are open but there are several cautions in place.

Communications meteorologist Lisa Murray said an onshore flow and "a lot of moisture" were being pushed on to the southeast coast of the South Island.

"Around Dunedin and right up to Timaru could see some heavy rainfall with some decent accumulations. Dunedin has a lower threshold for flooding."

Dunedin could receive up to 80mm of rain by 1pm today, and North Otago 70mm by 11am.


DCC acting general manager infrastructure and networks Leanne Mash said rain in Dunedin overnight caused few issues for the city.

DCC staff monitored the situation overnight and staff and contractors were out checking conditions this morning, but the stormwater system had coped well with the rain and there was minimal surface flooding in Mosgiel and South Dunedin, Ms Mash said.

There was a minor slip on the Otago Peninsula past Portobello, this had been cleared and is not affecting traffic.

Some fords on the Taieri were closed as a safety precaution and those north of the city are being assessed.

Warrington Domain remains closed to freedom campers today, but the DCC’s other freedom camping site, at the Ocean View Recreation Reserve, was open.

Tree crews were out checking for any dropped or broken branches and vegetation.

Parks sites were also being checked and drains and culverts being cleared as needed.

The heavy rain was expected to ease this afternoon and if conditions do not change it is not expected this will cause issues in Dunedin.

"We will continue to monitor the situation."

North Otago

As of noon there were 14 roads closed in the Waitaki district: Windsor Park, Weston-Ngapara Road (Enfield to Tussocky Rd), Uxbridge, Turfus Camp, Springhill, Simm, Rocklands, Papakaio, Ludemann, Jardine, Island Cliff-Duntroon, Elderslie, Cormacks-Kia Ora, and Aitcheson Rds are now closed.

There were eight roads in the district under caution. 

Central Otago

NZTA is advising users road users to take extra care on SH 85 between Kyeburn and Alexandra and SH8 between Lindis Pass and Raes Junction  because of flooding and rockfalls.

Waimate District

The Waimate District Council said this morning there was widespread surface flooding on roads and asked drivers to drive to conditions.

State Highway 82 (Waimate Gorge) was closed, with access through Old Ferry Rd.

Hakataramea Pass remained closed as a precaution.

Backline Rd was closed from Bluecliffs Rd to Colliers Rd.

South Canterbury's Glenavy School is closed due to the weather and the condition of roads.

Across the Waitaki River in North Otago, Papakaio School remained open, but buses did not run.

The North Otago A & P Association posted to its Facebook page a meeting would be held at noon today "to assess the ground condition of the main ring -- specifically for Friday's jumping events".

"Our first priority is the safety of all competitors."




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