16 Jul 2012

Flooding, slips still hitting roads

10:53 pm on 16 July 2012

Flooding and slips are continuing to affect roads, although MetService says fine weather is on its way, following several days of torrential rain in both the South and North Islands.

A front that hit the South Island at the weekend moved north on Monday.

The most recent closure, State Highway 1 between Motuoapa, south of Taupo, and Turangi, on Monday night, was caused by flooding.

The Transport Agency says the road is impassable at Waiotaka Straights. Drivers can use Poihipi Road, State Highway 32 and State Highway 41 Taupo to Turangi.

Both lanes of State Highway 3 from the Awakino Tunnel to the township of Awakino on the west coast of the North Island, are open again, but the Transport Agency says delays are possible. The highway was earlier closed by a slip.

The Waioeka Gorge on State Highway 2 between Opotiki and Gisborne also reopened on Monday evening after a slip shut it earlier, but drivers are advised to be cautious.

In the South Island State Highway 73 from Springfield to Arthurs Pass will remain closed until Tuesday morning at the earliest.

MetService expects the rain generally to ease on Monday night, although a band of bad weather is moving across eastern Bay of Plenty and it has issued a heavy rain warning for the area.

Spokesperson Daniel Corbett says a large high will move across the country from Tuesday.

He says an area of high pressure is coming in from the Tasman Sea, which will take away the rain bearing fronts. "As the high builds in, it will be a nice dry and settled spell through the next several days."

Concerns abate over Whanganui River

Fears the Whanganui River would rise to its highest point in a decade have eased.

The Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council says the river was likely to peak at 10.5 metres at 10.45pm on Monday, 2 metres lower than originally forecast.

The council says at that level the river will flow freely under the town bridge on Tuesday morning.

The Waikato Regional Council says it will continue to monitor the Waipa and lower Waikato Rivers, as well as waterways in west coast catchments.

It warns farmers and residents to be aware of flooding and slips.

Meanwhile, flights were grounded at Whanganui Airport because of low cloud.

Buller back in business

Buller district Mayor Pat McManus expected Westport to be fully up and running on Monday.

A total 280mm of rain fell in 36 hours over the weekend, causing the Buller River to rise rapidly and cover surrounding farmland.

Mr McManus says most of the flooding was surface flooding in low lying areas.

He says the region escaped relatively unscathed, with very little serious damage and he expected business as usual on Monday.

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio says the Maitai River is receding.

There were concerns in Marlborough on Sunday night that the Wairau River was still rising and could breach its banks.

But Marlborough civil defence spokesperson Mark Wheeler says his worst fears were not realised.