2 Aug 2023

Severe weather that disrupted travel, caused power cuts forecast to ease on Thursday

9:32 pm on 2 August 2023
Snow has started settling in Dunedin's hill suburbs, with thick flurries powered by strong winds.

Snow in Dunedin's hill suburbs this morning, with thick flurries powered by strong winds. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Stormy conditions around the country led to power outages, flight and ferry cancellations and road closures on Wednesday.

Heavy winds and rain led both the Interislander and Bluebridge ferries to cancel trips across the Cook Strait on Wednesday evening.

The Interislander's return sailing from Picton to Aratere was cancelled, along with the 8.30pm Kaitaki sailing from Wellington and its return from Picton at 2.30am on Thursday.

The Bluebridge ferry also cancelled its 7.15pm sailing from Picton to Wellington, as well as its 8.30pm return trip.

Multiple flights into Queenstown were cancelled earlier in the day due to snow, while others were delayed.

Wind caused at least three departures and four arrivals to be cancelled in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports.

In Auckland, strong wind gusts led to a lower speed limit and a reduced number of lanes on the Harbour Bridge in the morning, with reduced speed limits again in place for a time this evening.

A slip on Remutaka Hill Road between Wellington and Wairarapa this morning led to a temporary speed restriction and a stop and go traffic management system.

A number of state highways were closed in Otago and Southland earlier in the day due to snow, but they had all reopened by about 1pm.

However, Waka Kotahi is still warning motorists to take extra care on State Highway 80 from Lake Aoraki to Mount Cook due to icy conditions.

Earlier on Wednesday, hundreds of North Island households were without power due to gale force winds.

Powerco said crews would continue to work into the evening to restore power to customers, but some households may not have power overnight.

As of 3pm, 492 customers did not have power, but that had decreased to 100 by 8pm.

Most of the people affected are in the Taranaki and Whanganui regions.

On Wednesday afternoon Powerco said more than 2500 customers had been impacted by outages in the last 24 hours.

In the North Island, MetService has a snow warning in place for the Desert Road in the North Island until 6am on Thursday and for Remutaka Hill Road until 9am tomorrow.

A number of watches remain in place for severe gales and heavy snow including in coastal Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, Banks Peninsula and the Chatham Islands.

MetService said the strong cold southwest flow over New Zealand was forecast to ease on Thursday.

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