Ex-Cyclone Gita 'a few hours' from making landfall but both islands being battered

Follow 1 NEWS NOW's live updates as ex-tropical Cyclone Gita starts to batter New Zealand

As Cyclone Gita approaches New Zealand central New Zealand is bracing for heavy rain and high winds. Dozens of schools have already been closed on the West Coast and Nelson today.

STORY SO FAR:

  • Parts of state highways are closed on the West Coast and the Kaikoura region
  • Canterbury and the Marlborough Sounds are getting significant rainfall
  • Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has declared a State of Emergency for the city council's area.
  • The centre of Cyclone Gita is barreling towards the West Coast and upper tip of the South Island.
  • Air NZ has 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 self-evacuate due to heavy rain.
  • Police have warned motorists to be aware of high winds and debris on the roads and drive with care.

Live update from earlier today can be viewed here.

4.33pm: Power is out in Takaka, Golden Bay. The full impact is yet to be confirmed by Network Tasman.

4.30pm: Sounds Air say as a precaution they have cancelled flights today out of Wellington that go to Nelson and Westport. Their flights from Blenheim and Taupo are still going. 

Earlier, Air New Zealand cancelled all services into and out of Wellington from 2.45pm today until midnight and said this may have a flow-on effect to other services.

Air NZ also cancelled services into and out of Hokitika, Nelson, New Plymouth and Queenstown until the end of the day.

4.20pm: Fire and Emergency NZ have had three callouts to downed powelines and two to trees fallen onto roads in the New Plymouth District. The calls have been to several areas including Waitara, Oakura, Rahotu and Kaimiro. New Plymouth District Council says it's keeping an eye on the weather situation and liaising with Civil Defence. 

4.10pm: The storm has brought a summer dusting of snow to The Remarkables in Queenstown. 

'We've got a bit of snow coming in from the south-southeast," said Ross from The Remarkables.

"We hope everyone further north is safe with that rain. And of course, for us, this is just a taste that winter is on the way."

3.55pm: Christchurch City Council, which declared a State of Emergency this afternoon, is urging people in rural areas to stay off the road, particularly after dark. It says the storm could cause flooding, slips and fallen trees on Banks Peninsula. Farmers should move stock from low lying areas and creeks prone to flooding. 

People in low-lying areas should move valuable possessions up high, and move cars to higher ground.

"This is an unpredictable weather event. We want people to be as prepared as they can be," said Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Anyone concerned should call the Customer Contact Centre on 03 941 8999 or 0800 800 169.

3.37pm: NZTA roads update:

State Highway Six is closed from Westport to Rapahoe, north of Greymouth, due to flooding and strong winds. The road is expected to remain closed overnight, with a further assessment to be made tomorrow morning. A detour route is available via SH69 and SH7 (Reefton and Inangahua), but drivers are urged to delay travel if possible until the heavy rain and strong winds affecting the area have passed. 

SH1 north and south of Kaikoura remains closed due to heavy rain and the risk of slips and rockfalls. Route 70, the inland road via Waiau remains open for road access to Kaikoura. Drivers are urged to delay all but essential trips in the area until the severe weather has passed. 

All drivers travelling from Picton to Christchurch are advised to take the Lewis Pass route via Waipara and St Arnaud.

SH6 Rocks Road in Nelson remains open, and is being monitored closely.

3.20pm: MetService says a trough is spreading a narrow band showers over the North Island at the moment. Heavy rain is continuing over the South Island. Cyclone Gita is a few hours away from making landfall, the forecaster says. 

3.10pm: The Sounds Retreat has tweeted that 70mm of rain from Cyclone Gita has been recorded in the Marlborough Sounds. And MetService reports Canterbury is clocking up the rainfall now, with many locations approaching 50mm. Timaru has had 48mm, Cheviot 50mm and Christchurch itself 20mm so far.

2.55pm: Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has declared a State of Emergency for Christchurch City, which includes Banks Peninsula, due to the impacts of ex-tropical Cyclone Gita.

Latest forecasts show the region is set for heavy rain and high winds, with potentially serious impacts. Banks Peninsula is expected to bear the brunt of the storm.

The declaration highlights the severity of the potential impacts of the weather, and gives people early warning to prepare.

"The full impact of the storm will be felt overnight and tomorrow morning. We are expecting homes to be flooded. If you are in a flood-prone area, particularly if your home was flooded, or close to flooding, in the July storm last year, you should consider evacuation before the worst of the storm hits tonight," Ms Dalziel says.

"We think it’s better people make preparations while it is still light, and ahead of road closures, to allow them to get out if they wish."

Part of Clarendon Terrace has been closed already, and the council expects further streets to close over the course of the afternoon and evening. These will not reopen until the risk of flooding has gone.

2:43pm: Travel insurance provider Allianz Worldwide Partners says if you are currently travelling and your transport is delayed or cancelled or your accommodation is affected due to Cyclone Gita you may be able to claim for additional travel, accommodation and meal expenses.

If you haven't yet departed and your pre-booked travel arrangements are cancelled, delayed or rescheduled by your travel provider as a result of the cyclone you may be able to make a claim for cancellation or rearrangement of your journey. Contact your travel agent or provider regarding the best option in altering your trip.

2.25pm: SH6 is closed between Westport and Greymouth because of strong winds and surface flooding. NZTA says it'll provide another update on the road at 9am tomorrow.

2.10pm: Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the winds are starting to move in now, but the 150km/h winds have not yet arrived.

2.05pm: 

According to MetService meteorologist Ciaran Doolin, Cyclone Gita will split into two systems as it crosses the Souther Alps tonight.

"It is technically splitting into two low pressure centres as it crosses the South Island today," he said.

The bulk of the system would push across the country into Canterbury after the split.

"This is the main system, which will mainly be affecting the east coast tomorrow. It will bring very strong southwest winds and heavy rain, the heaviest rain being overnight tonight," he said.

The lesser system would form over Westland and move north, bringing rain to the upper South Island.

1.47pm:

Click here to view the latest video update from the MetService about Cyclone Gita on Facebook.

1.42pm:

The latest update from the MetService has heavy rain warnings in place for Wellington and the Kapiti Coast until 2pm today.

Nelson and Buller will be in the firing line later with a heavy rain warning up until 9pm tonight.

Canterbury and North Otago have a heavy rain warning in place all the way until 11am tomorrow.

There is even a Road Snow Warning in place for the Crown Range Road tonight.

1.32pm: 

Police are reminding the public to take care as Cyclone Gita crosses the country today, particularly on the roads.

Motorists in affected areas are urged to drive to the conditions.

If you must travel, allow more time for your journey as you’ll need to reduce your speed and increase following distances.

People should also be aware of high winds and possible debris on the road.

Motorists are encouraged to check road updates from NZTA prior to travel.

Police districts will continue to monitor the weather situation and are ready to assist Civil Defence and other agencies should there be the need.

1.25pm: 

Time Saver Traffic are reporting extensive flooding on Auckland's Tamaki Drive as the high winds edge closer.

1.15pm:

Westland District Council advises its Emergency Operations Centre has been activated and will remain fully staffed for the duration of the event.

A meeting was held at midday today with all relevant EOC staff, emergency services and support agencies.

A further update will be held at 4 pm.

The storm is expected to start hitting from now and the intensity to last for at least 12 hours with the wind intensity significant from 4pm through to 10pm.

Residents are urged to prepare for gale force Southeast winds (up to 150km/per/hour) particularly South Westland.

These winds can be very damaging and all precautions should be taken to secure loose iron and awnings etc. and limit any travel on roads from 1pm this afternoon.
 

12:49pm

Marlborough Civil Defence warns there is local road flooding in some parts of the region. State Highway 1 is closed at Clarence.

It is advised Marlborough residents should restrict their travel today if possible, as road conditions are poor. 

Check Marlborough District Council's site for alerts on weather conditions

12:42pm

Christchurch City Council has advised people living in low-lying areas whose homes have flooded in the past should be prepared to self-evacuate this afternoon.

If there is an evacuation, the Council will open up Pioneer Stadium for people leaving their homes. It is advised, for flood-prone streets, a decision be made in advance whether to leave before the water gets too high.

12:39pm

Higgins employees have been out delivering sand to Nelson residents for free in an effort to prepare for possible flooding this afternoon when Gita hits.

Bevan Muollo said Nelson is a "tightknit" town and Higgins had put out an offer on Facebook earlier today for the deliveries, which have been eagerly accepted by many in low-lying areas.

12:31pm

Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence is advising residents in low-lying coastal areas should consider staying with family and friends tonight.

12:10pm

11.57am

11.54am

KiwiRail’s TranzAlpine service has been cancelled for Tuesday and Wednesday due to the severe weather from Cyclone Gita.

The cancellation of the Great Journeys of New Zealand service will affect 1416 passengers.

11.51am

11.48am

MetService updates: HEAVY RAIN WATCH

- Mt Taranaki from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Tuesday.
- Horowhenua, the Tararua Range and Wairarapa from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Tuesday.
- Area: Dunedin from 11:00 am Tuesday to 11:00 am Wednesday.

STRONG WIND WATCH

-Northland, Auckland including Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui and Taupo from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm Tuesday.
- Bay Of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay from 6:00 pm Tuesday to 2:00 am Wednesday.
- Fiordland from 3:00 pm Tuesday to 6:00 am Wednesday.

11.40am

Air NZ has cancelled all services into and out of Wellington from 2.45pm today through until midnight.

The airline is also cancelling services into and out of the following ports until the end of the day –
• Hokitika
• Nelson (from midday onwards)
• New Plymouth (from 11.00am onwards)
• Queenstown

Check the Air NZ website for updates on flight schedules. 

11.32am

Christchurch City Council expects flooding at low points and around low-lying river areas, with streets around these areas expected to be closed later today.

There is also a risk that low-lying homes along the Heathcote River could flood.

Wind gusts could reach 90kmh in Christchurch City, and 120kmh plus on Banks Peninsula.

At this stage, the Council is not expecting any inundation in Southshore, particularly with temporary stopbanks in place.

Heavy rainfall is forecast for just before the high tide tonight, due in Sumner at 9pm and the Heathcote River at 10pm.

11:27am:

MetService has updated that the heavy rain Watches for Christchurch, Banks Peninsula and North Otago have been upgraded to full Warnings. 

11.16am

Severe weather warning updates from MetService:

HEAVY RAIN WARNINGS

- Nelson and Buller from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Tuesday.
- Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Tuesday.
- Wellington and Kapiti Coast from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm Tuesday.
- Canterbury including Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula, and the ranges of Westland from 11:00 pm Tuesday to 11:00 am Wednesday.
- North Otago from 1:00 pm Tuesday to 11:00 am Wednesday.

STRONG WIND WARNING

- Taranaki, Taihape, Whanganui from 3:00 pm Tuesday to 1:00 am Wednesday.
- Manawatu, Kapiti-Horowhenua, Wellington and Wairarapa including the Tararua District from 6:00 pm Tuesday to 6:00 am Wednesday.
- Nelson and Buller from 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm Tuesday.
- Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast from 3:00 pm Tuesday to 3:00 am Wednesday.
- Westland and the Canterbury High Country near the Alps from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm Tuesday.
- Canterbury from Banks Peninsula northwards from 7:00 pm Tuesday to 3:00 pm Wednesday.

11.11am

Christchurch City Council says the latest forecast shows the city may receive up to 80mm of rain in the next 24 hours.

But the council also clarifies, the forecast is rapidly changing because of the "dynamic nature of the ex-tropical cyclone".

Banks Peninsula may receive significant rainfall of 100mm to 150mm in the next 24 hours. Heavy rainfall is expected between 4pm and 5pm today, through until 2am tomorrow.

11:07am

11.05am

Timaru District Council has activated its emergency operations centre at a low level to monitor and respond to any issues arising from Cyclone Gita. 

11:04am

11:00am

Nelson City Council road closure update:

Manuka Street ford is closed
Hathaway Terrace Carpark is closed
Whakatū Carpark Gloucester Street may flood. Park at your own risk.
SH6 Rocks Road in Nelson remains open and is being monitored closely.

- All Nelson City Council parks and reserves with large trees will be closed from 12pm today due to the possible risk of tree fall in the high winds.

10:52am

The Department of Conservation is warning the risk of floods, landslides and falling branches on conservation areas is high, and it is advised people don't venture outdoors until their weather warnings are liftedy today - which can be viewed here.

10:48am

If you're flying in the South Island, or lower North Island, today keep up to date with the status of your flight - disruptions are expected.

10:46am

Kaikoura had received the most rainfall across the country today by 9am this morning - 39mm.

State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura remains closed due to the poor weather conditions, the NZTA says. Kaikoura is still accessible using Inland Route 70 and Lewis Pass can be used for Picton.

10.40am

10.30am

Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi is urging people in areas affected by the weather to expect power outages and possibly road closure

He says the government will step in if needed.

To view live updates prior to 10:30am click here.

Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the winds are starting to move in now and residents should prepare. Source: 1 NEWS


Topics



Netsafe won't pursue Sir Ray Avery's complaint over media website

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery will have to go to the district court if he wants to pursue his complaint about media website Newsroom any further.

Sir Ray complained to Netsafe under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, regarding five articles Newsroom had published about fundraising he was doing for his LifePod inventions, and about his other past products.

He said the articles caused him severe emotional distress and amounted to harassment and digital harm under the Act.

Newsroom has refused to take the articles down.

Netsafe Director Martin Cocker said there isn't anything more Netsafe can do through mediation.

"As soon as one party says, you know they're not prepared to engage in the process, then that's a pretty strong sign that it's time for Netsafe to conclude its process."

That mediation process is a mandatory first step under the Act, and most Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints are sorted at this point.

However Mr Cocker said the main thing they do to get resolution, is to advise parties on what the likely legal ramifications are of different actions that they might take.

In this case, Mr Cocker said, there is not clarity in the Act about how these particular cases should be handled.

"It is for the court to set that precedent, so our recommendation is that has to happen," he said.

Mr Cocker said if they did not feel they could progress the case, their advice was to consider taking it to the district court. But he said that was "entirely optional" for the complainant.

By Gia Garrick

rnz.co.nz

Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint.
Sir Ray Avery. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

What to do and what not to do if you come across a kiwi in the wild

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi on the Heaphy Track got TVNZ1's Seven Sharp thinking - what to do and what not to do when you come across the native bird in the wild.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it's pretty unusual for these nocturnal birds to be out during sunshine hours.

As we all know kiwi don't fly so escaping predators can be pretty tricky. An average of 27 are killed every week, so we've got to be pretty careful around them.

DOC gave Seven Sharp some important tips to remember if you encounter one of these unique birds.

Firstly stay still and just enjoy the rare experience. Stay a few metres away and don't worry if they approach you, just keep still.

Second, don't move towards the bird or try to pick it up - it's an offence to hold kiwi without permission from DOC.

Also, be weary of their sharp claws - they're wild animals and can get stroppy.

Lastly, feel free to take photos or video, but only in low light conditions and don't use a flash as it can stun the birds.
 


An encounter with one of the birds on the Heaphy Track got us thinking. Source: Seven Sharp

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Farmers fear summer El Nino drought as Spring rains wipe out lamb stocks

Farmers across the North Island counting the cost of a wild start to spring, with thousands of lambs lost due to heavy rain, may soon have another problem to contend with.

Their attention has turned to the coming summer, with those on the East Coast concerned a predicted El Nino weather pattern could bring drought, turning the green hills bone dry.

"It's a matter of making decisions early and keeping an eye on it, a drought normally happens slowly, and you've got some time to get used adapt to it," Federated Farmers Jim Galloway says.

The warning comes as some Hawke's Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flocks due to recent heavy unseasonal rain.

Farmer Ben Crosse told 1 NEWS that he lost around 750 of his new-borns.

"New-born lambs are very vulnerable, particularly in the young ewes who are having their first lamb and are a bit more hesitant.

"The lamb birth weight's lighter, so it takes the first-born lamb a wee while to get a drink, and they sometimes can't get going in the rain," Mr Crosse said.

After a wet start, it could be a long hot summer ahead for many New Zealand lambs.

Some Hawke’s Bay farmers have reported losing nearly 30 per cent of their flock. Source: 1 NEWS


Clever kea using tools to raid traps

A native bird famous for its mischievious behaviour has now figured out how to use tools, researchers have found.

Researchers have found that world's only alpine parrot - the kea - in the South Island's Murchison Mountains is using sticks to get food out of stoat trap boxes.

The findings by Gavin Hunt and Mat Goodman have been printed in the Scientific Reports Journal.

The pair found that over a 30-month period, 227 different traps had been raided using sticks across the ranges, which indicated many kea were responsible.

The trapping is part of a Department of Conservation operation to protect Takahe.

From 2002 to 2009 the traps were untouched, but then trappers began to notice the boxes tipped upside down. Some had stones in them and a growing number had sticks in them.

"It's an incredible amount of tool-using," Mr Hunt, an ecologist, said.

Trail cameras were set up and filmed a kea probing a trap-box with sticks.

It is the first evidence of non-humans using a tool in the country.

Mr Hunt said it would have taken many years for kea to develop the technique.

"It seems to be unique... a non-tool using bird having such extensive tool using behaviour and repeatedly using tools over many years."

"It shows the kea has high general intelligence to invent the tool use and keep using the tools to get the eggs out of the trap-boxes."

This suggests how cognitively demanding its been for the birds to figure out the technique, which shows its intelligence, he said.

It may be more difficult to invent tool use in the wild because the natural food is better hidden and more demanding to find, he said.

Having a situation where the food is sitting in a box and easier to see and reach could have encouraged the birds to invent the tool, the research suggests.

Kea are known to have used tools while in captivity but not in the wild, Mr Hunt said.

He said this makes kea one of the better candidates for New Zealand's "smartest bird".

Further research is now needed to discover if kea can use the tool to hunt for legitimate sources of food in its natural environment, he said.

rnz.co.nz

Forest and Bird estimate less than 7000 kea remain.
Source: 1 NEWS