Relive events as they unfolded across the country as ex-tropical Cyclone Gita battered New Zealand today.
STORY SO FAR:
- Some people have left their homes near Christchurch's flooded Heathcote River.
- More than 20,000 students and pre-schoolers have been affected by school and early learning centre closures.
- Power outages have hit residents in Taranaki and Tasman districts, with over 23,000 people without power.
- Parts of state highways are closed on the West Coast and the Kaikoura region.
- Canterbury and the Marlborough Sounds are getting significant rainfall.
- Buller, Selwyn District, Grey District, Westland, Taranaki, Nelson Tasman and Christchurch have all declared a state of emergency.
- The centre of Cyclone Gita is barreling towards the West Coast and upper tip of the South Island.
- Air NZ cancelled all services into and out of Wellington from 2.45pm today through until midnight.
- Low-lying Christchurch residents have been told to prepare to evacuate due to heavy rain.
- Police have warned motorists to be aware of high winds and debris on the roads and drive with care.
- Around 40 people will be sleeping in buses tonight, with Chinese tourists trapped south of Hokitika
Live updates from earlier today can be viewed here.
11.30pm: That concludes our live coverage of this weather event for tonight. Our live coverage will resume at 5.30am tomorrow. Until then, good night.
11.15pm: Okay, here is the MetService's last weather watch for today:
"Issued by MetService at 10:08pm Tuesday 20-Feb-2018.
"Severe gales and heavy rain across central New Zealand should ease Wednesday as Cyclone Gita departs
"Cyclone Gita is forecast to track southeastwards across the upper South Island tonight (Tuesday), then to move away to the southeast on Wednesday. The high-impact severe weather across central New Zealand should ease as Gita moves away on Wednesday.
"This Watch is for the possibility of strong northwesterly winds approaching severe gale for a time in exposed parts of the North Island from Waikato south of Hamilton to Taupo, across to Bay of Plenty, including Gisborne and Hawkes Bay until early Wednesday morning. In addition, southeasterly winds may rising to severe gale for a time in Fiordland until around dawn Wednesday.
"People are advised to keep up to date with the latest forecasts as case parts of the Watch are upgraded to a full warning. Please see http://www.metservice.com/warnings/tropical-cyclone-activity for more detail on Cyclone Gita, including the latest track map.
"Note, the heavy rain watches for Mount Taranaki, Horowhenua, the Tararua Range and Wairarapa are now lifted.
"Also, the strong wind watches are also lifted for Northland, Auckland including Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and Waikato from Hamilton northwards."
Strong Wind Watch
Area: Waikato south of Hamilton, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Bay Of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay
Valid: 6 hours from 10:00pm Tuesday to 4:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Northerly winds may rise to severe gale in exposed places for a time until early Wednesday morning.
Valid: 8 hours from 10:00pm Tuesday to 6:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Southeasterlies may rise to severe gale in exposed places for a time until around dawn Wednesday.
Watches no longer in force
Heavy rain watch lifted for: Mt Taranaki.: Periods of heavy rain about Mt Taranaki. Totals may reach short term warning criteria.
Heavy rain watch lifted for: Horowhenua, the Tararua Range and Wairarapa: The threat of warning amounts of rain has now passed and the watch is lifted.
Strong wind watch lifted for: Northland, Auckland including Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and Waikato from Hamilton northwards: The threat of severe gale northwesterlies has now passed and the watch is lifted.
10.56pm: 1 NEWS' reporters have been battling Gita today, along with much of the North and South Islands. Stay safe folks.
10.47pm: The NZTA is asking people to delay non-essential driving in the lower North Island, with heavy rain and high winds expected throughout the night.
Current regional closures as at 9pm:
Taranaki – sections of State Highway 3 Urenui to Waitara are closed for tree removal.
Manawatu – sections of State Highway 54 Cheltenham to Hunterville is closed due to strong winds.
10.31pm: This interactive map shows how Gita has broken off into two seperate storms...
10.24pm: A Westland Civil Defence Spokesperson has confirmed to 1 NEWS that roughly 40 people will be sleeping in buses tonight.
Two buses of 21 Chinese tourists are stuck in Wharatoa, south of Hokitika.
Thirty tourists are in welfare centres in Haast and locals are also billeting people.
Twenty-five tourists will be sleeping in the Whataroa Community hall.
10.19pm: Hard work in New Plymouth this afternoon...
10.15pm: This from 1 NEWS' Katlin Ruddock...
10.05pm: "I've never seen anything like it": Spare a thought tonight for Darryl and Julie Thomas doing it very, very tough in Riwaka, near Motueka. Darryl's gone fishing, from the boat - in his garage. But they're in good spirits. This is there story.
9.44pm: MetService reports the most rain recorded was in Kaikoura ranges from 2am today at 255.5mm.
The largest recorded wave was at Port Taranaki – 6.7 metres.
Winds are forecast to ease by tomorrow morning, rain is forecast to ease or clear for everyone by midday tomorrow.
9.37pm: MetService reports the highest wind gust recorded in the last 24 hours to 8pm was in Hawera, South Taranaki – northwest 130km/h.
Westport also hit 118km/h.
Most rain recorded in Kaikoura ranges from 2am today at 255.5mm. Rain gauges continuing to go increase from Kapiti southwards.
Largest wave at Port Taranaki – 6.7 metres.
9.22pm: Christchurch City Council says the Dudley Creek bypass is in operation and is helping to divert floodwaters away from Flockton properties. Flockton houses have been prone to flooding in the past.
Meanwhile, Christchurch's wastewater system is coming under pressure due to infiltration and inflow from the rain during the storm. The council is asking residents to delay washing the dishes or clothes until Wednesday evening or Thursday morning and if you have to shower, keep it short.
Some people have decided to evacuate their homes near the Heathcote River where roads are flooded.
Christchurch remains under a state of emergency, declared by Mayor Lianne Dalziel this afternoon due to the impact of the ex-cyclone.
8.57pm: Evidence of the heavy rainfall which has hit Motueka today!
8.22pm: 1 NEWS reporter Kate Nicol-Williams says the Les Mills Extreme gym in Wellington is shutting its door early tonight and evacuating gym goers due to water leaking through the roof.
A staff member said there's damage to the roof foundations on an upper level.
8.19pm: 1 NEWS reporter Kaitlin Ruddock has just made a live report from a flooded backyard in Riwaka.
8.10pm: Taranaki has now also declared a state of emergency, with nearly 23,000 properties without power in the region.
The pipeline from the New Plymouth water treatment station to the Mangorei Reservoir has been ruptured by a falling tree.
Residents in eastern parts of New Plymouth District – New Plymouth, Bell Block, Waitara, Tikorangi, Onaero and Urenui – are urged to conserve water and use only the bare minimum.
Fallen trees and traffic accidents are disrupting traffic flows on number of highways and local roads.
8.03pm: A warning to motorists, and some updated road closures has just been released by the NZTA.
The NZ Transport Agency advises drivers of additional road closures in the South Island and urges people to delay trips until the severe weather has passed.
High winds mean that drivers of high-sided vehicles, towing caravans or driving campervans should stay put, well out of the wind.
• SH73 (West Coast side of Arthurs Pass/Otira to Christchurch) Jacksons to Kumara Junction – closed due to strong winds and falling trees across highway.
• SH6 Hokitika to the Haast Pass/Makarora – closed due to strong winds and falling trees. Strong winds through the Whataroa Valley, trees down.
• Route 70, inland road, to Kaikoura via Waiau and Mt Lyford – closed with the Mason River rising rapidly at the Whalesback slip area.
Kaikoura is effectively isolated until this road or SH1 reopens.
7.55pm: Nelson Tasman has become the sixth region to declare a state of emergency today due to Cyclone Gita.
Following significant rainfall in the Takaka catchment, further flooding is expected to occur in the region, including Takaka township.
Water volumes are uncertain but expect flooding to occur at least in the main street of Takaka over the next few hours.
Takaka residents are asked to be aware, and consider self-evacuating if you feel your safety could be at risk.
A Civil Defence Centre has been opened at Takaka Recreation Centre.
7.46pm: A release from the Westland District Council Emergency Operations Centre as they declare a State of Emergency in the Westland District.
Severe wind gusts overnight and danger to motorists was the reason given for the declaration.
State Highway 6 Hokitika to Makaroara Closed. update at 9 am tomorrow morning.
State Highway 73 Jacksons to Kumara Junction Closed. Update 9am tomorrow morning.
A reception centre has been set up in the Franz Josef medical centre to assist tourists with accommodation for the evening.
There are reports of trees down and damage to buildings.
Hokitika Airport is closed for tonight, please check the Air New Zealand website for flight details tomorrow morning.
Power is currently intermittent so please treat all power lines as live at all times.
The storm is expected to intensity from 6pm and last for at least 12 hours with the wind intensity significant from 4pm through to 10pm.