11 Jan 2020

Flood warning for Rangitata River ahead of heavy rain

6:30 pm on 11 January 2020

Parts of the South Island are on notice for heavy rain and there could be flooding as wild weather bears down on New Zealand.

Rangitata River remains flood on Sunday 8 December, 2019.

Rangitata River remains flood on Sunday 8 December, 2019. Photo: Facebook / Timaru District Council

Heavy rain warnings are in place for Westland, the headwaters of Canterbury lakes and rivers, the headwaters of Otago lakes and rivers and Fiordland north of Doubtful Sound.

Strong wind warnings are in place for parts of Canterbury, Fiordland, Southland and Clutha too, and there are severe weather watches in place for Nelson, Otago, Wellington, Wairarapa and Marlborough.

South Canterbury is especially on edge after a flood warning was issued for the Rangitata River.

The Canterbury Regional Council says about 200 to 250 millimetres of rain is forecast for the Southern Alps from 8pm on Saturday.

It says that will swell the lower river's flow from around midday on Sunday and the river's flood protection is still vulnerable since December's big floods.

The Rangitata River overflowed after heavy rain on 8 December, forcing the closure of State Highway 1 and cutting off access north from Timaru.

Environment Canterbury said on 19 December it expects work to realign main flow channels and ease pressure on locations at risk of further break outs would take weeks and maybe even months.