Strengthening Cyclone Sarai dampens Kiwi holiday plans in Fiji

A strengthening tropical cyclone has put a dampener on holiday plans for New Zealanders heading to Fiji over the Christmas break.

Tropical Cyclone Sarai has forced the cancellation of several flights while Roads are already flooded and power has been cut as a precaution.

Justin Sutherland from Whangarei is on a family holiday in the town of Ba.

"The flooding is increasing, the weather and the wind is increasing by the minute," he told Newshub. "The town centre closed at midday, [it's] very wet and very windy."

Cyclone Sarai was declared a category one system at 3am on Friday.
Cyclone Sarai was declared a category one system at 3am on Friday. Photo credit: Fiji MetService

Sarai is currently a category one tropical cyclone and is expected to reach category two later on Friday night, but MetService says it could get worse.

"The potential is there across the weekend for further intensification," meteorologist Angus Hines said. "At the moment the official track has it going to category two and staying there, but over the weekend the potential is there for it to rise to a category three system."

That means it would be a severe tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds.

A number of flights have been cancelled, including two Fiji Airways services from Auckland on Friday afternoon.

Cyclone Sarai forecast to strengthen to a category 2 system before reaching Fiji.
Cyclone Sarai forecast to strengthen to a category 2 system before reaching Fiji. Photo credit: Fiji MetService

In total, 175 passengers had been booked on Friday's flights. Those with connecting flights have been checked in to other flights.  

Those going to Nadi will have to wait until Monday to travel, and more flights from Auckland and Christchurch have been cancelled on Saturday, leaving additional passengers stranded.

Daisy Warren is stranded in Nadi after her Air New Zealand flight home to Auckland was cancelled - and the next flight isn't until Tuesday.

"We're pretty much stuck here until then and the weather's not looking too flash, so we're just stuck inside a hotel room," she told Newshub. "I've been quite stressed out about it and a bit upset because I had plans for New Years [Eve] which have fallen through.  

"Everyone's just a bit annoyed, people just want to go home."

And it's not just the flights that are stressing people.

"It's not just about the air fares it's about the hotels, getting out there if they're going on a transfer via boat or other planes," House of Travel's Brent Thomas said.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz