23 Sep 2008

Gale-force winds hit Wellington

7:23 pm on 23 September 2008

Gale-force winds that have been buffeting the South Island have begun to pick up in Wellington as strong norwesterlies move up the east of the country.

The winds have caused flights to be cancelled at Queenstown airport, and the New Zealand Transport Agency has advised motorists on inland roads to take extreme care.

In Wellington, police are advising motorists not to attempt to use the Rimutaka Hill road until early Wendesday morning because of winds gusting up to 125 kilometres an hour in exposed places.

Motorists should choose alternative routes, they say.

Inspector Ian Harris, of Wellington police communications, says the wind is causing probems for high-sided trucks, and one car was picked up and spun around by a gust.

Police say they will close the road if conditions deteriorate.

Earlier on Tuesday, MetService said a gust of 148km an hour was recorded inland from Gore, and that winds have been gusting at gale force in exposed places on Banks Peninsula.

The New Zealand Transport Agency has warned drivers of campervans and other high-sided vehicles to take extreme care.