8 Mar 2019

Wellington hit by deluge as front moves north

6:49 pm on 8 March 2019

A slip is blocking part of Hutt Road in Wellington, adding to congestion during rush hour.

Wet weather in Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Wellington City Council said the slip happened this afternoon between the Onslow Road intersection and the Ngauranga Gorge.

Hutt Road is down to one lane heading north.

The council said it was one of many slips due to the heavy rain in the Wellington region today.

Heavy rain has hammered the capital this morning, prompting dozens of flooding-related calls to the city council.

The council says there have been reports of manholes being lifted up from the pressure, and water entering the basements of properties in the CBD.

An underpass at the Wellington Railway Station is also flooded. There were no disruptions to bus and train timetables.

Wellington received 32mm of rain between 6am and 11am - more rain than had fallen over the last month. In Lower Hutt, 64mm fell Wainuiomata since 4am, according to MetService.

Commonsense Organics in Kilbirnie said they were temporarily closed as the shop roof has collapsed due to the rain and building work.

A restaurant in the CBD was left under water for the third time since the middle of last year.

Higher Taste, in the Old Bank Arcade, was flooded this morning when the rain came down.

There was panic from the chefs when they noticed water pooling on the floor, said Jagdish Prasad, who runs the restaurant.

"They were halfway into their cooking when one of the chefs walked out and the next thing he sees is a pool of water and because they have been through this on a number of occasions and they know the consequences, it was sheer panic once again."

Last winter the entire restaurant was flooded and had to close for eight weeks.

Mr Prasad said flooding had cost the business thousands and it was frustrating waiting for a fix, which was up to the landlord and the council.

A severe weather watch has been issued for Wellington, Marlborough Sounds and the Kaikōura coast. In Nelson, 25mm fell in the six hours to 9am.

A rain warning is in place for Bay of Plenty and Gisborne north of the city.

MetService says the active front that swept up the South Island yesterday bringing heavy rain will continue to move across the North Island today. The front is expected to bring rain to most of New Zealand, including drought-hit regions.

Sporadic heavy rain started falling in Auckland around noon.

Dry Marlborough welcomes some wet respite

Rain falling across Marlborough is being welcomed by residents, after weeks of hot, dry conditions and fires.

More than 30mm has fallen in Blenheim and Picton, and the Wairau and Awatere river catchments have received 10mm to 25mm.

A Marlborough Council spokesperson said more rain was forecast today, and there has been some flooding around Blenheim but no major issues.

Roads would be slippery after the long dry spell and drivers were asked to take it easy and be aware of the slip risk, the spokesperson said.

The water restrictions in Renwick and Picton are unchanged for now but will be reviewed next week.

MetService Meteorologist Peter Little said: "This front should stay more active, which means parts of central and northern New Zealand that have been very dry this year will finally get some rain.

"While this rain will be welcomed by farmers and gardeners in these dry regions, it won't be enough to make up for the short-fall this year."

Front heading north, warning in force on East Coast

The front is expected to move northeastwards across the North Island today through to early Saturday morning, bringing bursts of heavy rain. The heaviest falls are expected in eastern Bay of Plenty and Gisborne north of the city and a warning is in force.

On Sunday a ridge of high pressure should briefly bring more settled weather.

On Monday, however, a moist north-to-northeast flow will bring rain to the west of the South Island, continuing into Tuesday.

Although sunshine is expected to return this weekend, it will likely be intermittent.

"While a few places may have a dry weekend, there will be a scattering of showers across the country. Check your forecast, as you may need an umbrella or coat handy if you're heading out and about," Mr Little said.