Huge waves hit Canterbury coast

A mammoth 11m wave has been recorded off the Canterbury coast this morning while wild winds have brought down powerlines and trees around the lower North Island.

A monster wave measuring 11.82m high was recorded east of Banks Peninsula, Niwa said just after 6.30am. And a maximum wave height of 7.49m was recorded at Baring Head off Wainuiomata.

Monster waves had also been sighted along the South Island coast and MetService said the largest wave measured by a buoy overnight was 6m high.

The treacherous winds and seas come as New Zealand experiences freezing temperatures, with snow falling to low levels in the North Island - forcing the closure of part of State Highway 1 on The Desert Road through the Central Plateau.

Christchurch has a high of 8 deg C, and a low of -1 deg C today, with showers gradually easing and becoming confined to Banks Peninsula by the evening. 

Meanwhile, it was -1 deg C in Hamilton and 0 deg C in Waiouru early today, while towns like Taupo and Taihape were also barely raising the mercury. All major cities were struggling in single numbers.

As well as the closure of The Desert Road, other roads are also dicey: snow has been falling on the Napier-Taupo Rd (SH5), on the Remutaka Hill Rd linking Wellington and Wairarapa, and on the Lewis Pass (SH7)  in the South Island.

Heavy snowfall warnings have also been issued for Taihape, the Ruahine Range and the Tararua Range.

One truck driver told Newstalk ZB he'd faced treacherous conditions, heading south towards Taihape, through the night.

Strong gusts of up to 120km/h in and around Wellington were expected until late this morning, weather experts say.

"The main thing now is just that we're on a very gradual easing trend for the first half of the day and the second half of the day, things will ease quite quickly away," a spokesman said.

WIND WHIPS WELLINGTON

Central northern fire communications said they were called out to four weather-related incidents early on Thursday.

Fire crews went out to Nelson St, in Naenae, Lower Hutt, shortly before 5am, where powerlines had come down.

The same thing happened just after 3am in Avalon, where a tree was blown onto powerlines, also bringing them down.

A spokeswoman said they were also called out to the suburb of Seatoun, where plastic roofing sheets had come loose at a property there.

Police were called to Moa Point, after a report of rocks on the road.

A MetService spokesman said gusts of between 120km/h to 125km/h had been recorded in the Wellington region overnight - but was expected to ease back from late this morning.

"We're on a very gradual easing trend now for much of the morning and for the rest of the day, really, we're not going to see much significant weather," he said.

A high-pressure weather system is gradually coming over the country from the west and the northwest, which will bring finer weather and more settled weather for many parts of New Zealand from Thursday and through to Friday.

MetService has issued a number of severe weather warnings and watches in and around the country.

It has warned of severe southwesterly gales for Wellington, southern Wairarapa, northern Hawke's Bay and Gisborne this morning.

There is also a warning of heavy snowfall over Taihape, in the Rangitīkei District, the Ruahine Range and the Tararua Range.

TODAY'S FORECAST

• Auckland: 13C temperature high, 6C overnight low. Fine spells, showers becoming isolated this morning and clearing this afternoon.

• Kaitaia: 15C, 6C. Fine spells. The odd shower, mainly in the morning. Southwesterlies.

• Whāngārei: 14C, 5C. Fine spells, the odd shower, mainly in the morning.

• Hamilton: 11C, 0C. Fine with a frosty start. Southwesterlies.

• Tauranga: 13C, 3C. Mainly fine with early frosts possible. Southwesterlies.

• Gisborne: 11C, 6C. Showers developing in the morning, possibly heavy, easing in the evening. Strong, gusty southerlies.

• Palmerston North: 10C, 3C. Showers clearing in the morning to fine spells. Gusty southwesterlies, easing in the afternoon.

• Wellington: 9C, 6C. Showers, easing in the afternoon. Severe gale southerlies, gusting 120km/ in exposed places, gradually easing.

•  Nelson: 12C, -1C. Fine with early frosts. Southwesterlies dying out in the afternoon.

• Christchurch: 8C, -1C. Showers gradually easing and becoming confined to Banks Peninsula by evening. Southwesterlies strong at first.

• Queenstown: 8C, -3C. Morning cloud then fine. Southerlies dying out.

• Dunedin: 9C, 4C. A few showers, clearing in the afternoon. Southerlies gradually dying out.

• Invercargill: 9C, -3C. Some morning fog and one or two showers, then becoming fine in the evening. Light winds.

 

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