13 Jul 2013

Ferry sailings hit as severe gales loom

9:44 pm on 13 July 2013

At least two Interislander ferry sailings on Sunday have been cancelled, as severe gale southerlies bear down on the centre of New Zealand.

A cold front and a deepening low are expected to bring snow down to low levels overnight, which could close the Desert Road and the Rimutaka Hill Road, along with South Island mountain passes.

Metservice says snow down to at least 300 metres will disrupt travel across mountain passes through the Southern Alps, and across the North Island Central Plateau overnight and through until Monday.

Forecaster Eric Brenstrom says wind gusting up to 130 km/h is expected to hit Wellington about midday on Sunday. The gale-force southerlies are due to bring six to seven-metre swells in Cook Strait.

The winds are expected to bring trees and slips down across the eastern North Island, which is already saturated from heavy rainfall.

KiwiRail has cancelled the early morning and afternoon Kaitaki sailings and further cancellations are likely.

The Transport Agency says it's expecting slips right across the eastern North Island.

Floodwaters ease in Wairarapa

Floodwaters have receeded in Wairarapa, allowing state highway 53 between Featherston and Martinborough to be reopened on Saturday afternoon after it was flooded by the Ruamahanga River.

State Highway 56 in Manawatu is expected to remain closed at Opiki, north of Shannon, until Sunday morning, because of the flooded Manuwatu River.

North of Gisborne, State Highway 35 from Anaura Bay to Okitu is flooded and motorists are warned to be cautious.