Roads cut off, tourists remain stranded after severe rain, flooding in South Island

Parts of the South Island are still cut off after severe weather ravaged the island over the weekend causing flooding.

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Breakfast’s Maddy Lloyd has this 6am, December 9 update. Source: Breakfast

The wild weather over the past two days caused major disruption for local commuters and tourists.

Close to 1000 tourists are stranded at Franz Josef, with the main State Highway 6 network closed from Hokitika to Haast Pass.

Major flooding of the Rangitata River has closed State Highway 1 at Rangitata in Canterbury and a state of emergency remains in place for Timaru.

State Highway 2 near Geraldine in Canterbury is also closed.

On the West Coast State Highway 6 (SH6) from Hokitika to Franz Josef is closed due to multiple slips. Essential vehicles and residents can use the road to Harihari. The section of SH6 from Franz Josef to Haast is closed with the road completely washed out. The section of SH6 from Haast to Makaroa - the Haast Pass - is closed.

Residents are urged to be patient while work continues this morning to get an alternative route open, which would be reserved for emergency services and helping transport emergency supplies.

If you don't need to be on the road, stay at home, authorities warn locals.

Stephen Doran, the public information manager for the Timaru Civil Defence, says it could take weeks for the district to recover.

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Stephen Doran spoke to Breakfast on December 9. Source: Breakfast

"It's been a night of watching and hoping the river doesn't rise again… thankfully it's been very slowly declining again," he told Breakfast this morning.

With roads impassable, the only way in and out is by air - helicopters bringing supplies to trapped residents and planes.

"The whole island's been cut in half. There's been no transport link north to south for the past couple of days," Mr Doran says.

"We're hoping that we'll be able to have some sort of transport link in a couple of days."

Authorities are working around the clock to try and get the inland route open again, but some areas need to wait for the flooding to recede first.

The Timaru District Council is set to inspect flood damaging today and authorities are on standby in Wanaka, bracing for further flooding.

While the wet weather is set to continue into today for some regions, others can expect it to start clearing.

Dunedin and Invercargill are expecting rain, potentially reaching Oamaru by the late afternoon. Showers are also expected in Milford Sound and along the West Coast, clearing later in the day.