3 Jan 2014

Bad weather batters much of country

8:18 pm on 3 January 2014

North-western parts of the South Island and much of the lower North Island were battered by heavy rain and high winds on Friday as an unseasonal weather band made its way up the country.

Flights in and out of Wellington were cancelled or delayed for several hours, after wind gusts up to 140km/h were recorded just after midday.

Most flights resumed a normal schedule just after 4pm, but there were long delays on State Highway 1 between Otaki and Levin after strong winds brought several tree branches down.

The MetService said the severe front brought more than 80 millimetres of rain to Central Otago overnight, causing southern lake levels to rise, and caused similar downpours in Buller, Nelson and over the Tararua Ranges.

On Friday night it lifted a heavy rain and gale warnings for central parts of the country including Buller, Nelson, Wairarapa, Wellington and Marlborough.

Forecasters said the heavy rain and gales have eased and the front that brought them is weakening and moving east over the North Island.