15 Jul 2013

Power restored for many, travel resumes after storm

10:11 pm on 15 July 2013

Just a few isolated households will be without power in Taranaki overnight on Monday, following wild weather that also hit Wellington, unleashing winds of up to 140 km/h.

The wild weather closed roads in the North and South Island, halted flights in and out of Wellington Airport and forced the cancellation of afternoon Cook Strait ferry crossings on Sunday morning due to high winds and large ocean swells.

The storm brought down 160 electricity lines, cutting off more than 18,000 homes and businesses from Waitara to Whanganui.

Lines company Powerco said reconnecting the properties is taking longer than normal because it had no warning of the bad weather.

It said that by 5pm on Monday, it had reduced the number of customers without power to about 580 and expects to get the power back on to most later that night.

About 8000 households spent Sunday night without power, with temperatures dropping as low as 2 degrees Celsius.

Ferries and flights operating

Cook Strait ferries have resumed sailing on Monday. KiwiRail said the Arahura left Picton at 10.30am. The Kaitaki was delayed by more than four hours and finally left Wellington at 12.30pm. KiwiRail said it would take until Tuesday morning to catch up its schedule.

Bluebridge said its ferries restarted on Monday afternoon - at 1pm in Wellington and 2pm from Picton - and are now on schedule.

The weather disrupted hundreds of passengers' travel plans at the start of the school holidays.

Air New Zealand said its flights have resumed but there are delays on Monday as it clears the backlog.

Meanwhile, strong winds flipped a Cessna plane and ripped roofing off the control tower at New Plymouth Airport on Sunday. Manager Kevin Murphy said they were the strongest he had seen in his seven years there. The airport was closed at the time, but reopened on Monday.

Roads closed

The Automobile Association says the Desert Road in the central North Island is closed due to snow and the MetService is forecasting up to two centimetres of extra snow on Monday night.

Akatarawa Road between Waikanae and Upper Hutt is also closed by snow. Drivers are urged to be cautious on State Highway 2 between Wairoa and and Opotiki and on the Rimutaka Hill Road north of Wellington, due to snow.

Meanwhile, a slip has closed part of Candia Road in Auckland.

In the South Island, State Highway 94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound is closed due to ice.