14 Jul 2013

Severe weather cuts power and disrupts travel

10:25 pm on 14 July 2013

Extreme weather hitting much of the country has cut power to thousands of homes in Taranaki and caused the cancellation of flights and ferries in and out of Wellington.

Electricity provider Powerco says strong winds brought down trees over power lines in Taranaki, cutting power to 11,000 homes.

It says about 8000 homes are likely to have no power until Monday morning.

Areas affected include Kaponga, Kapuni, Opunake, Okato, Oakura, Omata, the eastern suburbs of New Plymouth, Waitara and Inglewood.

The Wellington and New Plymouth fire services received 150 callouts from midday to 10pm on Sunday, and one New Plymouth fire truck has been crushed by a falling tree.

Ferry and flights cancelled into and out of Wellington

Hundreds of travellers have had their plans disrupted with flights and ferries in and out of Wellington cancelled as severe wind gusts of up to 165 kilometres an hour hit the capital.

Wellington Airport on Sunday afternoon.

Wellington Airport on Sunday afternoon. Photo: RNZ

Strong wind warnings are in place for Wellington, Marlborough, Wairarapa, Whanganui, Taranaki, Northland and parts of Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.

The MetService says there have been several winds of more than 100 kilometres per hour in Wellington, with the strongest felt at Mount Kaukau at 165km/h.

MetService meteorologist Tristan Oakley says overnight temperatures across most of the country will reach low single-figures on Sunday night.

He says motorists should be careful of black ice, particularly in the South Island.

Snow is forecast above 500 metres for the South Island, and heavy snow warnings are in place for North Canterbury and Kaikoura above 400 metres.

Mr Oakley says winds are expected to ease by Monday morning.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson says some flights from Auckland and Christchurch are landing in Palmerston North, and passengers will be transported by road to Wellington.

The airline says all flights to regions outside of Auckland and Christchurch either have been or will likely be cancelled.

A large freight ship broke its mooring and floated out to sea on Sunday afternoon, where it is being held in place by tugboats.

A freight ship being held in place by tugboats.

A freight ship being held in place by tugboats. Photo: RNZ

A spokesperson at the port says the ship was due to leave on Sunday afternoon but it will now stay until the bad weather passes.

Three Interislander ferry sailings across the Cook Strait have also been cancelled on Sunday.

The 8.15am and 1.05pm crossings by the Kaitaki were cancelled, and the passenger service for the 2.30pm Arahura sailing was also cancelled, although it did run as a freight sailing.

Wellington Airport's flight information board.

Wellington Airport's flight information board. Photo: RNZ