Rivers rise above alert levels as heavy rain hits

Two West Coast rivers rose above alert thresholds yesterday as wet weather buffeted much of the country.

The region is under a heavy rain warning lasting until this morning.

Continous heavy rainfall and flooding also caused SH6 between Makarora and Haast to close overnight, and NZTA Waka Kotahi is predicted to provide a status update by 10am today.

MetService urged people via social media to travel safely, warning heavy rain and strong winds made for dangerous roads. Today would be ‘‘another busy day’’ but conditions were generally set to ease, it predicted last night.

RNZ reported yesterday amid running updates that the Waiho River at Franz Josef and the Hokitika River in the Hokitika Gorge had crossed alert thresholds.

The Hokitika River was more than a metre over its warning level in the gorge and was expected to peak yesterday evening.

The alert level was 3.7m, and at 7.05pm, the West Coast Regional Council measured it at 4.9m.

The Waiho River in Franz Josef peaked at 6.20pm, half a metre over its alert level, but had since been dropping.

In Cobden, near Greymouth, an iron roof lifted about noon.

Orange heavy rain warnings were in place all over the country yesterday, including Southland, Westland, Otago, Canterbury, Buller, Tasman, Marlborough and the Bryant Range.

Some residents in Spring Creek, near Blenheim, had been told to evacuate by 9am today.

The Peninsula Rd stopbank was potentially compromised due to previous storms and seismic activity.

Civil Defence had visited affected homes yesterday evening.

People were asked to keep up with the latest forecasts and take precautions, including reviewing emergency plans for their homes.

Franz Josef residents were being told to boil their water as a precaution.

Snow was predicted on the Milford road and Lindis Pass, which could affect the roads overnight and this morning.

In the North Island warnings were in place for Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, including Rotorua, and Taranaki.

In the North Island, the restaurants and bars at the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower were closed yesterday evening due to strong winds.

MetService issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato and Bay of Plenty from 10pm yesterday until noon today.

Around 60 domestic arrivals and departures at Auckland Airport had been delayed or cancelled shortly after 8pm.

Niwa warned via social media yesterday evening it would by busy overnight and this morning across the upper North Island, as a front would bring heavy rain and strong winds.