Heavy rain watches in place for North Island as front moves from South Island

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

Heavy rain warnings are in place for parts of the North Island as an active front moves up north after battering the South Island earlier this week.

Surface flooding in Gore following heavy rain that is moving up the country. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

The school holidays have started and with travel picking up, motorists are being warned to be wary of the road conditions.

MetService said the front which hammered the South Island this week was slowly moving onto the North Island and would continue moving slowly eastwards across the island during the weekend.

Heavy rain warnings are in place for Bay of Plenty east of Opotiki and Waitomo and the Central North Island High Country south and west of Lake Taupō until Sunday.

A heavy rain watch is in place until Sunday for Northland, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Taihape, Whanganui, and Taupo west and south of the Lake, and Taranaki.

MetService meteorologist Alec Holden said heavy rain was lashing Nelson and Marlborough on Saturday morning, but that would ease by the afternoon.

“By this evening, it should be lined up stretching from the top of Northland down through inland Taranaki and then into the lower North Island.”

Authorities in Southland remained on watch overnight as the Mataura River peaked at various points after a 24-hour deluge, which began on Thursday and led to states of emergency in Southland and Queenstown.

However, Emergency Management Southland (EMS) said those peaks were expected to be lower than the 2020 floods and staying within the capacity of the river system.

EMS Group Controller Simon Mapp said some people were evacuated as rivers overflowed onto their land.

But he said the worst was over and MetService’s forecast showed the weather in the region would improve on Saturday.

Mapp urged people not to enter or drive through flood waters, which might be contaminated.

Gore District Council stood down its emergency response on Friday night, but Southland’s state of emergency remains in place.

A Civil Defence Southland spokesperson said a number of streets and roads around the Gore District remain affected by flooding, but State Highway 1 between Gore and Mataura reopened on Saturday morning.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council said its next steps in the flood clean-up included clearing debris on Brecon Street, where about 70 people were still out of their homes.

Thick snow has settled on farms in Central Otago after Friday’s heavy snowfall.

But in Alexandra, the annual Blossom Festival parade and market was set to go ahead.

Community emergency hubs at Gore and Mataura have been closed.

As for Sunday, MetService said rain was again expected for most of the North Island, while scattered showers were expected in the north and east of the South Island.

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