28 Dec 2010

Weather delivers mayhem from South to North

10:00 pm on 28 December 2010

Wild weather moving across the country left chaos in its wake on Tuesday, with power cut, roads closed and livestock drowned in flooded rivers. Authorities advised that it was a good day to stay home.

The storm was initially centred around Collingwood and Golden Bay - where seven houses had to be evacuated - before moving onto the lower North Island.

Winds gusting up to 160kmh downed power lines and uprooted trees, and slips blocked many roads.

Rock falls closed State Highway 73 from Arthurs Pass to Otira, but it reopened on Tuesday evening.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said three other roads remained closed because of flooding. State Highway 6 was out near Havelock at Canvastown, and also in the lower Buller Gorge from Inangahua to Westport. State Highway 7 at Stillwater was also closed.

Earlier in the day, Wellington police received hundreds of calls about trees and slips blocking roads, power down in various suburbs and traffic lights not working. Gales caused trees to fall on lines, triggering a series of feeder faults.

North of the city, 1,300 customers were without power in Titahi Bay and the Kapiti Coast. In Wairarapa, 300 Carterton residents and 500 Featherston residents also lost electricity in the morning.

Flying debris including a shed and several trampolines also kept officers busy.

A slip blocked Crown Range Road between Wanaka and Queenstown, and the fire service rescued people caught in a car trapped in water near Havelock.

The Rimutaka Hill Road (State Highway 2) north of Wellington was closed for a time because of slips, high winds and a car crashing into a bank. State Highway 1 was also closed briefly after a tree fell onto the road at Mangaweka.

As the wild weather made its way north and east, the police in Taupo, Rotorua, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay received weather-related calls, mainly about trees on roads and powerlines.