25 Apr 2024

Cold start to Anzac Day, with rain on the way for some

12:52 pm on 25 April 2024
National service Wellington

The dawn service in Wellington. Photo: RNZ

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage has cancelled two services for Anzac Day in Wellington due to concerns over safety of veterans and visitors in high winds.

The wreath-laying service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park - due to get underway at 11am - were cancelled, as has the Atatürk Memorial wreath-laying service at Strathmore in Wellington.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage chief executive Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae said the cancellation was unfortunate, but very high winds were expected. The dawn service earlier went ahead as planned.

Despite this, MetService has not yet issued a high winds warning for the city.

"We're seeing wind gusts getting upto 59 knots/109km/h. It's getting close to warning criteria so it's expected to remain beneath," MetService meteorologist Dan Corrigan said.

A warning would be issued if it looked likely wind gusts could reach 120km/h.

Rain expected in the south

It was a chilly but dry start for most people up early on Thursday to attend Anzac Day services, particularly in some of the big centres.

Auckland's temperature dipped to single digits overnight, rising marginally to 10C for the start of the ceremony at 6am.

In Christchurch it got as low as 4.6C, rising to over 10C by 7am. Wellingtonians had the easiest start to the day in the main centres, staying a relatively moderate 14C through the night.

Aucklanders should expect rain to arrive overnight heading into Friday, which will continue through the morning before clearing that afternoon. Wellington will also get rain overnight, clearing by the morning, while it should remain largely dry in Christchurch.

On the West Coast of the South Island however, MetService put in place a heavy rain warning covering the ranges until 2pm.

"Expect 70 to 90mm of rain. Peak intensities of 15 to 25mm/h, and possible thunderstorms. Note, further rain expected Thursday night and Friday morning."

This may cause streams and river levels to rise rapidly, MetService said, also warning of slips and hazardous driving conditions.

Crowds line the streets at the Christchurch dawn service

Crowds line the streets at the 2024 Christchurch dawn service. Photo: RNZ/Nathan McKinnon

A strong wind warning was in place for the Canterbury High Country, up to 120km/h, and a strong wind watch covered the Southland, Central Otago and Fiordland regions. A heavy rain watch was in place for Fiordland on Thursday morning, with more expected that afternoon and evening.

"During Thursday morning a front should move onto the southern South Island, bringing strong northwesterly winds and heavy rain," MetService said.

"There is a moderate risk of thunderstorms embedded within the rain-band about Fiordland, the Otago headwaters near the main divide, and southern Westland with this front, and these thunderstorms are likely to be accompanied by localised heavy rain with intensities of 10mm to 25mm per hour.

"Note these thunderstorms will also be embedded within a strong northwest flow, but the storms are not expected to add significant gustiness.

"A low risk of thunderstorms spreads further north over the rest of Westland and east over Stewart Island."

Snow was expected to around 500 to 600 metres over Fiordland and Westland overnight and Friday morning, which could impact motorists and trampers.

Road snowfall warnings have been issued for several passes and roads, including Haast Pass, Lindis Pass, Crown Range Road and Arthur's Pass.

The coldest start to Anzac Day was recorded in Timaru, where it dipped below 4C, while Queenstown was the wettest.