Hundreds still without power as cold blast wreaks havoc


Hundreds of homes in the central North Island will remain without power - some for up to a week - following a cold blast over the weekend.

A number of residents are completely cut off from main centres with snow and road slips wreaking havoc in the region.

From the air, it's a complete whiteout while on the ground, it's causing a nuisance.

Hunter Kerry Boyle had hoped the Tarawera Café would be a good place for a flat white until he realised it was without power and closed for business.

He and two others were flown here by helicopter this morning after being rescued from a nearby hut they'd been forced to call home since Friday.

"As it turns out we had one and a half to two metres of snow, which was quite a big game changer for us," Mr Boyle says.

"We're pretty stuck in our hut. The beech forest was shattering around us with the weight of the snow on the trees."

Nearer Napier, a large washout closed McVicar Rd for the second time in 11 months.

"Power and phone went, that was the first thing to go, road was third thing to go," says farm owner Garth McVicar.

"So no power, no road, no phone since Saturday morning."

The Napier-Taupo road has now been shut for three days, and that's caught out unsuspecting tourists.

"We've been stuck here, we got snowed in, we didn't have power for two days," a Canadian tourist says.

"It's been great you know - I had to change my flight home."

Plans to reopen the road have been pushed back to tomorrow, as the local power company scrambles to repair the worst damage to its network in a decade.

"They have about 200-300 poles on the ground and it's going to take them some time to restore power to some of these areas," says Ian MacDonald from the Civil Defence.

"It could take up to a week in some areas."

Mr MacDonald says up to 300 households throughout the region remain without power.

Civil Defence staff visited many of those residents today, prioritising dairy farmers trying to run a business.

"Obviously we're just focusing on some of these problems, but there will be a significant bill at the end of this I'm sure," Mr MacDonald says.

He's asking for more patience from those without power and all drivers over the coming days as black ice remains a real threat.

MetService says the worst of the weather in the region is over, but there is still a chance for light snow flurries tomorrow above 600 metres.


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