Wild weather to ease but travel disruptions to continue after storm

Kiwis around the country are set for a brighter day of weather after rain, snow, wind and massive swells hammered New Zealand on Thursday. 

MetService said most places around the country should see fine weather with only a heavy swell warning in place for Wellington and Wairarapa with waves predicted to reach seven metres.    

Wellington's weather woes will likely continue on Friday, with some flights in and out of the Capital disrupted. 

Eight flights have been cancelled that were expected to arrive in Wellington, while five have been cancelled leaving the Capital. 

Wind gusts have reached 130km/h in the past 24 hours, with MetService warning similar winds could be felt again on Friday. 

Wellington Airport said they are still expecting disruptions to flights on weather despite the predicted improved weather. 

"We are hoping the weather improves today, but even if it does there will still be disruption to flights caused by the backlog. There are a number of cancelled flights already," Wellington Airport said in a statement.

"Passengers should check directly with their airlines for the status of their flights and to make any alternative arrangements. Also, our website has flight information."

Wellington Airport on Thursday.
Wellington Airport on Thursday. Photo credit: Newshub

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran told AM on Friday the airline is working overtime to get people home.

"It's still pretty tough down in Wellington but we are expecting things to improve later on in the day," Foran told AM fill-in co-host Laura Tupou.

"Yesterday, in particular, was really challenging; around181 flights cancelled altogether, 140-or-so of those were Wellington and to give you a sense we would normally see about 10 flights cancelled in total during the day, so tough yesterday but hopefully getting better as the weather improves a bit. 

"I really feel for our customers, it's been a pretty challenging couple of weeks. The weather was quite inclement at the end of the school holidays and now at the end of the school holidays when we are trying to get roughly 126,000 people moved over the next three days, so quite a challenge and on top of that we are dealing with COVID-19 like many businesses are, so I really feel for our customers at this point."

Foran said there are probably two to three days of disruptions still ahead for customers. 

The Interislander is braving the waves and is anticipating all ferry services to Picton will be back up and running later on Friday morning.

"Believe it or not the weather is supposed to calm down overnight. We are anticipating all sailings operating tomorrow but there may be some delays," the Interislander said on its Facebook page.

Interislander executive general manager Walter Rushbrook told RNZ 600 passengers were unable to travel yesterday because of rough seas.

Bluebridge said they also expect sailings to get back to normal. 

"The weather is forecast to improve by the morning, and we’re expecting our sailings to resume at 7:45am from Picton and 8:15am from Wellington; however, if the large swells continue longer than forecast, further cancellations are possible."

There are still several roads around the country closed because of the severe weather, according to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. 

They are: 

  • Bruce Road, Ruapehu
  • State Highway 35 Opotiki to Te Kaha
  • State Highway 36 Tauranga to Ngongotaha
  • State Highway 1B Telephone Rd/Holland Rd intersection, Hamilton
  • State Highway 6 Murchison, between the intersection with State Highway 65 and Hinehaka Road.  

Weekend weather 

The end of the school holidays should see Kiwis enjoy a fine weekend of weather.

Auckland will see a mainly fine day on Saturday but a few showers could develop on Sunday.
Hamilton is in for a scorcher of a weekend with sunny weather on Saturday and Sunday.

After a wild day on Thursday, Wellington should see improving weather over the weekend with morning drizzle clearing for a fine afternoon on Saturday and a sunny day on Sunday.

Christchurch will see patchy morning drizzle before clearing for fine spells on Saturday, while Sunday will see a few showers.

Dunedin will see drizzle on both Saturday and Sunday but locals will see fine spells on both days.