New Zealand

2 Jan, 2021 05:19 AM

Footage of the flooding in the South Island. Video / Otago Weather Updates / Allison Whitney

More than 1000 lightning strikes have been recorded across the North Island in the past two hours, as thunderstorms lash the country.

It’s been a sodden start to 2021 for Kiwis across the country, as heavy rain and severe thunderstorms cause havoc for campers and holidaymakers.

Roads are disappearing under floodwaters in parts of the South Island, forcing some campers and holidaymakers to find a plan b.

Emergency Management Otago has urged those in the region to stay put until Sunday.

Group controller for Emergency Management Otago Matt Alley said many major routes were affected by surface flooding, slips and debris.

“As we head towards nightfall, driving is only going to get trickier in much of Otago,” he said.

“Staying where you are for tonight is a better option than being stranded in your vehicle or needing to be rescued from a dangerous situation.”

Rain and slips have forced the closure of several key South Island roads, with more torrential rain forecast in parts of the country.

In Otago, State Highway 1 between Maheno to Reidston, SH6 between Queenstown and Kingston, SH87 Kyeburn to Outram, and SH83 between Otematata to Aviemore are closed.

An Auckland holidaymaker travelling from Omakau to Naseby in Central Otago captured a video of vehicles creeping through heavy floodwaters.

“There was lots of flooding over the roads, we went through four bits like that. It’s still raining really heavily, with thunderstorms. It’s rained all night,” said NZME’s Allison Whitney.

“We were supposed to be camping at the Naseby holiday camp but our friends have arranged some cabins for us instead so we don’t have to pitch tents in this weather. It’s pretty crazy weather for central Otago. You don’t often see rain like this.”

It’s a similar story for other Central Otago campers, with tents at the nearby Ranfurly Holiday Park sitting in pools of floodwater.

It's a wet and miserable day in Central Otago with flooding taking over Ranfurly Holiday Park. Photo / Supplied
It’s a wet and miserable day in Central Otago with flooding taking over Ranfurly Holiday Park. Photo / Supplied

Flooding at the Ranfurly Holiday Park in Central Otago. Photo / Supplied
Flooding at the Ranfurly Holiday Park in Central Otago. Photo / Supplied

Some festival-goers in Dunedin are stranded after rising water of the Silverstream cut off the Whare Flat Folk Festival, northwest of Dunedin, today.

The Dunedin City Council has set up sandbag stations at the Dunedin Ice Stadium carpark and Mosgiel Memorial Park for residents as a heavy rain warning looms over the city.

Sandbags are now available at the Dunedin Ice Stadium carpark, Victoria Road, St Kilda and Mosgiel Memorial Park, Gordon Road, Mosgiel. Please bring your own shovel to fill bags if you can.

Posted by Dunedin City Council on Friday, January 1, 2021

Boaties using Lake Aviemore in the South Island have been warned about submerged large logs and debris that have been dislodged by the downpour.

Environment Canterbury deputy harbourmaster Gary Manch said after heavy rainfall in the Canterbury high country, the debris has ended up in Lake Aviemore, causing a potentially dangerous situation for any unaware boaties.

“The logs and debris can sit just a few inches underneath the water’s surface and would cause considerable damage to any vessel that comes into contact with it.”

North Island

MetService detected more than 1100 lightning in the past two hours as thunderstorms batter the North Island.

Bursts of torrential rain pounded Auckland today as the stormy weather moved across the city.

Severe thunderstorms bringing very heavy rain and large hail were forecast in the Hastings and Wairoa area – with the area under a severe thunderstorm warning.

Meanwhile, a severe thunderstorm watch remains in force for Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupō, Hawke’s Bay, Taihape, Manawatu and Tararua.

In the Kaipara and Whangārei area, severe thunderstorms bringing heavy rain are moving south-southeast and were expected to lie near Paparoa and Taipuha by 5pm.

Severe thunderstorm watches remain in place for Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula.

Residents in places where severe thunderstorm watches and warnings are in place have been warned by MetService to take shelter, preferably indoors and away from windows and to get back to land if out on the water.

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