As it happened: Fehi wreaks havoc across New Zealand

  • 01/02/2018

These live updates have now ended.

A significant storm is lashing the country, with flooding and damage on both islands, as former Cyclone Fehi bears down.

What you need to know:

  • States of emergency have been declared in Dunedin and Buller 
  • Floodwaters have begun to recede in Dunedin 
  • About 800 people are stranded in Haast
  • 115 motorists are trapped between Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
  • Dunedin residences have been warned to treat all stormwater as contaminated
  • Nelson waterways have been contaminated with sewage
  • Flood waters in Wesport may be contaminated with sewage
  • Heavy downpours and strong winds are forecast for most of the country, with the heaviest expected in the South Island.
  • Evacuations in Nelson, with many roads closed in and around the city.
  • State Highway 1 has been closed north of Kaikōura
  • Severe thunderstorm watch for: Auckland, Northland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato, Waitomo, Taumaranui, Taupo, Taranaki and Taihape unill 11pm Thursday.
  • Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, and Taupo are on severe thunderstorm watch untill 7am Friday. 
  • Gusts up to 130kph are expected in southern and central New Zealand.


9:40pm - Motorists trapped in cars near Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers

One-hundred-and-fifteen motorists are trapped in cars between Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, as downed powerlines and trees block State Highway 6.

West Coast Civil Defence group controller Mike Meehan told Newshub attempts to reach the trapped motorists had been abandoned for now, due to slips containing live wires.

The local Civil Defence group in Westland will try to reach the motorists on Friday morning.

Many of the motorists are believed to be tourists and there is at least one Kiwi Experience bus, filled with young people, trapped on the road.

Mr Meehan said the motorists were in for a uncomfortable night's sleep, but they were safe and in contact with Civil Defence.

9:20pm - Rough weather complicates plans for New Zealand Masters Games

Despite the rough weather, competitors at this year's New Zealand Masters Games are still heading to a damp Dunedin.

Council says the condition of sportsgrounds will be checked early in the morning, and event organisers will arrange any changes to the programme or venues, if needed.

The games are set to kick off on Saturday.

9:10pm - Flood water in Westport possibly contaminated

Buller Civil Defence is warning Westport residents that flood water may be contaminated.

Broken sewer pumps have led Civil Defence to believe the water may contain sewage and residents are being urged to avoid flood waters, due to health and safety risk.

8:15pm - Flood waters recede in Dunedin

Floodwaters have begun to recede around Dunedin, following Thursday's heavy rain.

Rainfall and winds have eased, and river levels have dropped, but some surface flooding remains.

The state of emergency will remain in place overnight and be re-assessed in the morning.

Both welfare centres have closed and staff have been stood down from sandbag sites.

Filled sandbags can be found at Dunedin Ice Stadium car park and Mosgiel Memorial Gym car park.

State Highway 88 will be reduced to one lane on Friday, due to repairs to wastewater pump station.

7:43pm - Drone footage shows impact of storm on Kaiteriteri Beach

Drone footage shot by ParaDigital shows the impact of the storm on popular holiday spot Kaiteriteri Beach in Nelson.

7:30pm - State Highway 1 closed north of Kaikōura

SH1 has been closed north of Kaikōura, due to strong winds and fallen trees.

The NZTA says the road will remain closed overnight.

7:04pm - Sewage contaminates Nelson waterways

Nelson City Council has announced water from the storm surge and king tide has overwhelmed the local sewage treatment system at Richmond Pump Station and Monaco.

It has issued a ban on swimming or coming into contact with the water at Waimea Estuary and the Haven, including Tahunanui Beach, until further notice.

The council is also reminding residents shellfish should not be taken from the encloused waters of Waimea Inlet and the Nelson Haven at any time.

6:33pm - Showers expect to fall overnight

A southerly change is expected to bring rain to much of Christchurch and Canterbury that missed out on much of the heavy rain that battered the country on Thursday.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray says there will be light showers overnight.

"Enough to water the garden."

Heavy rain is expected to pour overnight across the West Coast until Friday morning. 

The rain accumulations had been "really phenomenal" on Thursday, particularly in the West Coast, she says. 

Taranaki had also seen a large downpour, with 109.5mm falling in the past 12 hours. 


6:30pm - Over 200 mm of rain accumulated in the Westland ranges

6:28pm - Kaikoura recorded its hottest temperature on Thursday 

6:03pm -  Check out this massive storm surge at a property in Hokitika 

6:00pm - Second king tide expected in Auckland and Nelson

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray says a king tide is expected to hit Auckland at 9.11pm on Thursday. 

This follows a king tide that flooded and closed the city's Tamaki Drive earlier in the day.

In Nelson, a high tide has now passed but another king tide is expected  at 11.30pm tonight.

It is not expected to be at the same levels but people should still be prepared, Nelson Tasman Civil Defence says.

While some roads have now reopened some will remain closed while they are cleared for damage. 
Civil Defence Centres have been set up in Nelson at Collingwood Area School and at Mapua – Hill Community Church.

5:36pm - Palliative and age care patients evacuated in Buller

West Coast District Health Board is evacuating nine patients from its Buller Health Facility due to concerns with flooding following heavy rain and the impact of the king tide due at 12:45am tomorrow morning.

West Coast DHB, General Manager, Phil Wheble, says the decision wasn’t taken lightly, but on the advice of Civil Defence, the DHB decided it was prudent to transfer the most vulnerable patients during daylight hours.

“We are fortunate that the local rest home, O’Conor Home has capacity to take nine residents from Dunsford, our Aged Residential Care ward. We are in the process of contacting families and next of kin to let them know what’s happening.


“The remaining three inpatients will continue to be cared for at Buller Health, and we are contacting their families to keep them updated."


People are advised to contact their GP for health advice. 



4:53pm - All ferries in and out of Wellington have been cancelled due severe weather.

4:37pm - Dunedin water contimated.

Dunedin residences are being warned to treat all stormwater as contaminated, Mayor Dave Cull says.

The main reason a state of emergency was declared in the city was due to flood water entering the city's wastewater system.

The situation is being closely monitored.

Dunedin's Surrey St was the one area where water was known to be contaminated, but all water should be treated as contaminated, as a precautionary measure. 



An emergency centre was activated at 9:30am Thursday, and evacuation centres have been set up in Dunedin and Mosgiel.



4:31pm - Paddleboarder blown away by wind in Cass Bay, Christchurch

Watch the moment paddle boarder Karen Langer is blown away by strong winds at Cass Bay, Christchurch.

4:10pm - About 800 people are stranded in Haast, with the town cut off.

Police say all people are non-residents, and are stranded due to slips and flooding between the townships on State Highway 6 on the West Coast.

Everyone is okay and Civil Defence is working through the situation, police say. 

Black Jack's Creek has burst its bank and Millers Flat Bridge road is closed, cutting the town off. 

Power lines are down, trapping several motorists on the road.  

Work is under way from both ends to let people through, but power is expected to be out, while this work is underway.

About 800 people are stranded between Franz Joesph and Fox Glacier, police say.

3:53pm - Some large rainfalls recorded so far this afternoon, according to NIWA 

3:48pm - Heavy rain expected across the North Island, as front passes

3:43pm - It's pouring in Dunedin, 49mm falls in city over the past three hours

3:28pm - Cameras have caputred the moment a huge storm surge bowled bystanders over in Nelson 

The group were being interviewed by a 1 NEWS crew, while standing on the road in the town of Glenduan, near Nelson, when the wave hit.

Watch for yourself now.


3:25pm - Heavy flooding hammers Grahams Beach in Manakau Heads

Flooding at Grahams Beach, Manakau Heads.
Flooding at Grahams Beach, Manakau Heads. Photo credit: Supplied

3:00pm - A state of emergency has been declared in Dunedin  

2:50pm - Schools closed across West Coast and Dunedin

Twenty six schools and eight early childhood centres have closed due to the severe weather in the West Coast and South Dunedin.

The Ministry of Education deputy secretary of Sector Enablement Katrina Casey says “the Ministry of Education’s regional teams have been contacting schools and early childhood centres across the South Island throughout the day”.

“We are helping all the impacted schools and early learning services. No reports of damage have been received.”

The closed schools in the West Coast are: Barrytown School, Blaketown School, Cobden School, Awahono School, Franz Josef Glacier School, Hokitika School, Kaniere School, Lake Brunner School, Paparoa Range School, Paroa School (Greymouth), Runanga School, Sacred Heart School (Reefton) and Westland High School.


The closed schools in Otago are: Bathgate Park School, Tahuna Normal Intermediate School, Bayfield High School, Anderson’s Bay School, King’s High School, Queen’s High School, Musselburgh School, Broadbay school, Abbotsford School, St Clair School, Portobello School, Macandrew Bay School and St Bernadette’s School.


The closed ECEs are: A to Z Preschool, Rainbow Preschool, Family Ties Educare – Musselburgh, Little Wonders Early Childhood Centre St. Kilda, Gumtree Montessori and Children, Queens High Preschool, Punavai Ole Atamai Pre-School and Family Ties Educare.


The situation in other parts of the country is being monitored by the ministry and support will be provided where needed, Casey says.

2:34pm - Severe thunderstorm watch issued in the North Island 

2:32pm - DOC tracks closed, people advised to stay home

2:29pm - Wellington Airport cancels flights

2:25pm - Granity and Hector on the West Coast are two areas that have been lashed by the storm

2:05pm - Centre of former Cyclone Fehi over lower South Island

1:55pm - State of emergency declared in Buller

1.48pm - Dunedin school closes 

1.47pm - Queenstown update 

01.38pm - Evacuations in Waitara east, Taranaki 

Around 30 households on Howard Street (East Quay) have been told to evacuate their homes as a precaution and move to the Waitara Public Library.

Anyone feeling concerned can self-evacuate to the Waitara Public Library if they can't find shelter with family and friends, Taranaki Civil Defence says. 

Taranaki Civil Defence is monitoring the situation and will advise later this afternoon if further measures are required.

Port Taranaki has also closed the Lee Breakwater and public carpark.

01.21pm - Residents are sandbagging and a bus is stranded on the West Coast 

People sandbagging a bar in Rapahoe.
People sandbagging a bar in Rapahoe. Photo credit: Newshub.
A bus has been stranded in a king tide in Rapahoe, near Greymouth.
A bus has been stranded in a king tide in Rapahoe, near Greymouth. Photo credit: Newshub.

01.06pm - Trees down, wheelie bins blowing away in Wellington 

Wellington City Council has received reports of trees blown down on Moana Road in Kelburn, a large pohutukawa on Para Street in Miramar and a large pine tree on Makara Road at Makara Beach. There's also a streetlight dangling on Orchy Crescent in Southgate.

In Newtown and the southern suburbs, recycling wheelie bins are blowing around the streets and motorists and pedestrians are urged to take care. 

Due to dangerous winds, the transfer station at the Southern Landfill has been closed, however the recycling area will remain open.

We've also just closed the transfer station at the Southern Landfill due to dangerous winds. The recycling area is still open, however.

Meanwhile there are flight delays and cancellations at Wellington Airport due to severe gales.

01.04pm - Flooding in Queenstown, is your road flooded? 

01.01 pm - Look at the damage from the flooding in Nelson 

Flooding in Nelson has caused evacuations.
Flooding in Nelson has caused evacuations. Photo credit: Supplied

12.47pm - Schools closed in Greymouth

A number of schools are closed in Greymouth due to the severe weather, except two which have remained open and are sheltering students.

John Paul II High School Principal Kieran Stone says the school decided to remain open along with Greymouth High School.

Students are staying in shelter inside due to debris and roof parts that had been "flying around", he says. 

Stone says there has been "quite a bit of wind" and several road closures.

The school was waiting to see if buses would be able to travel on the road in the wind to drop pupils home.

12.28pm - Snowfall warning in Central Otago

12.15pm - Update from the Grey District Council 

12.04pm - Flights suspended due to flooding in and around Nelson

Flights have been suspended at Nelson Airport due to flooding and severe weather. Nelson Airport advised customers on its Facebook page to contact their airline directly.


A car crushed by a fallen tree in Nelson.
A car crushed by a fallen tree in Nelson. Photo credit: Newshub
Heavy flooding in Ruby Bay.
Heavy flooding in Ruby Bay. Photo credit: Newshub

11.46am - Greymouth CBD closed

Greymouth's central business district has closed as the town continues to be battere d by wind. 

As it happened: Fehi wreaks havoc across New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub

11.42am - Evacuations near Nelson

Police say Mapua Leisure Park, Mapua Wharf, Monaco are being evacuated. 

Boatshed Cafe and Boathouse on Wakefield Quay are also evacuated.

They advised people to follow emergency service requests and for people not to go to Rocks Rd or Wakefield Quay because debris has made it dangerous.

11.35 am - Check out this picture of the weather currently over New Zealand

11.32 am - Debris and flooding in Mapua, near Nelson

Debris left from flooding in Mapua, near Nelson.
Debris left from flooding in Mapua, near Nelson. Photo credit: Newshub
Flooding in Mapua near Ruby Bay, Nelson.
Flooding in Mapua near Ruby Bay, Nelson. Photo credit: Newshub

11.17 am - Roofs coming off houses in the West Coast

Emergency services have received a number of calls about roofs coming off houses in Greymouth, Hokitika and Westport, a fire and emergency spokesman says.

Firefighters on the West Coast are dealing with a number of roofs torn of houses.
Firefighters on the West Coast are dealing with a number of roofs torn of houses. Photo credit: Newshub

11.04am - Check out this live weather tracker for your town 

10.18am - Roads closed in Nelson/Tasman and West Coast

10.08am - Heavy flooding and fallen trees close State Highway 6

State Highway 6 Westport to Greymouth is closed.

Detour via Reefton & Buller Gorge.


10.00am - Power outages in Buller

Power is out in Denniston, from Buller Bridge including Alma Road area down to Coast Rd to Costello’s Hill, on Pakington St, Domett St and in the Bulls Rd and Carters Beach.

Buller Electricity Limited says staff are attending the areas and advise people to treat all lines as live.


09:54am - Flooding closes roads in Bucklands Beach, Auckland 

09:15am - Auckland motorway flooded

Auckland's Northern motorway has also been flooded. Parts of the Northern Busway south of Akoranga have reportedly been closed.

Auckland's Northern motorway is flooded.
Auckland's Northern motorway is flooded. Photo credit: Newshub.

08:30am - Tamaki Drive goes under water

Parts of Auckland's Tamaki Drive have gone under water due to the king tide and bad weather on Thursday morning.

Auckland Transport is warning motorists to avoid the area.

"Tamaki Drive is NOW CLOSED between Ngapipi Rd the CBD (Hobson Bay area). Diversions are being set. Please use an alternative route," it says on Twitter.