UPDATE: Cyclone Gita to potentially bring 7.5 metre waves, snowfall in onslaught set for Tuesday

Cyclone Gita is continuing a path that forecasters expect will bring it crashing into New Zealand on tomorrow or Wednesday, unleashing heavy rain and possibly snowfall.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Having caused damage to Tonga last week, the cyclone is taking a boomerang-shaped path that has it currently lying south of New Caledonia, according to MetService's latest tracking map today.

Breakfast weatherman Matty McLean has the latest weather update. Source: Breakfast

It is expected to soon begin its turn back towards New Zealand and approach from the northwest as it transforms into an extra-tropical cyclone, MetService says.

Check the forecast in your region on the 1 NEWS NOW weather page

Metservice has issued a severe weather warning for Cyclone Gita to bring damaging winds and heavy rain to parts of central New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Principal Forecaster Chris Brandolino talks through the likely impacts as the storm barrels in from the west. Source: Breakfast

Cyclone Gita, currently located over the Tasman Sea, is forecast to track southeastwards and cross central New Zealand late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

The passage of Gita is expected to bring a period of high-impact severe weather to many parts of central New Zealand. 

Heavy rain will cause slips, rapidly rising streams and rivers, and flooding. 

Severe gales with damaging gusts are expected, so people are advised to secure property and items that may be blown away by strong winds. 

There is also the potential for coastal inundation with high tide overnight Tuesday and before dawn on Wednesday, due to the combination of tides, low air-pressure, strong onshore winds and large waves in excess of six metres in some places. 

For the North Island, coastal areas from Raglan southwards to southern Wairarapa are most at risk. 

For the South Island, the risk of coastal inundation is greatest for areas from Buller and North Canterbury northwards. 

In a live update on Facebook at 2.30pm, senior meteorologist Lisa Murray said the latest map shows the heaviest rain will be over the Wellington region, southern Wairarapa, Nelson, Buller, Marlborough, the Kaikoura coast, Canterbury plains and high country and along Westland including the ranges.

She also said that with strong wind, some places could see 7.5 metre swells affecting the coast, including in Nelson and Marlborough, Buller, Kapiti and northern Wellington.

Keep up to date with MetService's latest warnings.

Heavy rain and winds are expected for central New Zealand on Tuesday and Wednesday. Source: Breakfast

Cold air being dragged northwards by the cyclone may lead to snow falling to unseasonably low levels about the Canterbury high country on Tuesday.

It is unlikely the snow will warrant a widespread snow warning, but it may still affect some of the alpine roads in Canterbury.

CIVIL DEFENCE: PREPARE NOW AND BEHAVE SENSIBLY DURING THE STORM

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management is advising people to prepare for the possibility of power cuts, water outages and road closures.

Ministry of Civil Defence Director Sarah Stuart-Black yesterday said it's a good idea to have a grab bag ready in case you need to evacuate.

Non-essential travel during the storm is strongly discouraged, as roads will be especially dangerous.

Items which could be blown around by wind should be tied down and secured, including items like trampolines.

During the storm, close windows and curtains and avoid potential injury from breaking glass.

Bring your pets inside, and if you are forced to leave your home, be prepared to take them with you.

Marlborough warnings

Marlborough Civil Defence says anyone in the Marlborough Sounds, especially campers, trampers and boaties should leave the area today. Hunters and trampers in the high country should also keep an eye on rapidly rising rivers.

Marlborough Civil Defence says there's a heavy rain warning from 10am to 10pm Tuesday when 150 to 200mm of rain around higher ground and lesser amounts elsewhere is expected. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr are possible 

And there's a strong wind warning from 4pm Tuesday to 4am Wednesday for severe gale southeasterlies gusting 130 km/h in exposed places.

Be aware of fast rising streams and river levels. Expect coastal impacts with high tide overnight Tuesday and before dawn on Wednesday, due to the combination of tides, low air pressure, strong onshore winds and large waves in excess of six metres in some places.

Road closures from high river levels are possible at the Pelorus across SH6, Wakamarina Rd, Queen Charlotte track at Havelock, SH1 beside the Para Swamp and SH63 Wairau Valley. 

Boaties should be aware of debris at sea over the next few days.

Grey District schools to close

Grey District Council says all schools, early childhood centres and the Polytech will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cyclone Gita, currently over the North Tasman Sea, is forecast to affect the West Coast overnight tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday. 

The council says this is a significant storm with potential for severe gale-force winds, dangerous storm surges and waves causing coastal inundation and flooding, and heavy rain causing rapidly rising streams and rivers, causing flooding.


Authorities on the South Island’s West Coast are particularly concerned. Source: 1 NEWS


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Mount Ruapehu crater death prompts warning

A second death at Mount Ruapehu's crater lake in 12 months has prompted calls for people to take extra care at the top of the mountain.

A man's body was pulled from the lake by members of the group he was with yesterday afternoon.

Another man died at the lake one year ago.

Ruapehu District Mayor Don Cameron said the snow was becoming soft around this time of year, and people needed to be extra vigilant at high altitudes.

"I understand it's a skiier that's fallen in, but also apparently someone climbing also slipped on the ice and lost their ice axe," he said.

Mr Cameron said people venturing near the crater lake should take extra advice before heading up, or stick to well known trails.

Yesterday's death is being referred to the coroner.

An American tourist also died while skiing on Mount Aspiring yesterday.

Police said the 35-year-old man was skiing downhill toward the Bonar Glacier when he fell and died.

Another person they were skiing with attempted first aid but the man died at the scene.

An investigation into his death is now underway.

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Good news for skiers and snow boarders as a $10 million grant helps the project get off the ground.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Plane substance drop ruled out in mystery school illness

The 10 students from Carterton's South End primary school that were hospitalised due to an unusual smell will be back at school tomorrow.

Police now believe they can rule out initial reports that a plane flying overhead may have dropped a toxic substance on the school. Source: 1 NEWS

Multiple students fell ill on Friday afternoon following reports of an unpleasant smell.

Originally the smell was thought to have come from a plane that flew near the school but police have ruled that out after speaking with the pilot.

South End board of trustees chairman Brian Chin said it will be business as usual tomorrow for everyone at the school, including the children who fell ill.

"All children were discharged on Friday evening. They were sent home with information about what to do if they feel unwell again.

"They have contact numbers on hand if they feel unwell again and at this stage we envisage all those children will be at school again on Monday," Mr Chin said.

Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said the police were turning their focus to neigbouring properties and the surrounding area to find the source of the smell.

"There will be a couple of people in the [neigbouring] houses that we haven't spoken to and we'll be looking closely at the area to see whether there's anything in our police intelligence systems that may indicate where this smell may have come from."


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New charges revealed: Jobseeker with 'Devast8' across his face is back before the courts

A man with 'Devast8' tattooed across his face, who last year opened up about his job struggles as he tried to turn his life around, is back before the courts.

Mark Cropp - also known as 'DEVAST8' due to his distinctive facial tattoo.
Mark Cropp - also known as 'DEVAST8' due to his distinctive facial tattoo. Source: Screenshot/NZ Herald

Mark Cropp, 21, will face two charges of assaulting a female and threatening to kill.

The NZ Herald reports Mr Cropp will face a judge alone trial in November.

Mark Cropp became internationally known last year after he approached the Herald about not being able to get a job because of his inked face.

He said his brother tattooed the nickname 'Devast8' on his face during a heavy night drinking in jail.

On his release from jail, Mr Cropp wanted to get off the employment benefit so he could put food on the table for his family and to do that he needed a job.

But, employers didn’t take him seriously.

"One employment place said to me 'I wouldn't employ you with that on your face, I wouldn't even take a second look at you'," he told the Herald last year.

"I've had other people that just shrugged and laughed at me."

Last year the 21-year-old revealed his regret over the tattoo., saying:  "Once it was started, I thought, I can't go back on it now," he said of the night his brother tattooed the word on his face,

"I wish I had stopped while the outline was there to be quite honest."

Despite the regrets he initially wanted to keep the tattoo and hoped potential employers could look passed it.

However, after his Herald interview the story went viral and he decided to have it removed.

He accepted an offer from Sacred Laser in Kingsland to have it removed for free and he attended one appointment but did not return for further work.

New Zealand Herald


Drink is the drug of choice for baby boomers, new study reveals

Up to 40 per cent of older New Zealanders are engaging in hazardous drinking, a study has found.

Researchers from Massey University and the University of Auckland explored the prevalence of hazardous drinking in 4000 New Zealanders aged 50 years and over.

Hazardous drinking was defined as alcohol consumption that puts the person at risk of immediate harm, such as hospitalisation, or long-term harm such as cancer.

About half of older males and a quarter of older females were hazardous drinkers.

Research co-leader Dr Andy Towers said he wasn't surprised by the results.

"What we know from around the world is that we have a cohort of baby boomers that are drinking much, much more than any previous generation of retirees before.

"Drink is the drug of choice for baby boomers."

While awareness campaigns mainly focus on binge drinking in young people, little is known about harmful alcohol consumption in older adults.

"Our discussions about alcohol use shouldn't just be about binge drinking or whether someone has a problem... hazardous drinking is about how much you're drinking and whether - even it's a low amount - whether it's appropriate if you have medication use and [if] you have certain health conditions."

There are greater risks for older drinkers as their bodies become more sensitive to alcohol, Dr Towers said.

"We're not down to the point where we can provide really nuanced information or guidelines, we just say, in general, if you have this and you have this and you're taking medication, you really shouldn't drink."

The research team is now working with the Health Promotion Agency with the intention of developing a GP alcohol screening tool.

"One of the big problems we have is that a lot of GPs, a lot of practice nurses, feel uncomfortable talking to older adults about alcohol.

"We need to start talking about alcohol use with our parents and our grandparents."

The study reveals that New Zealand youth drinking culture is actually a "New Zealand culture" issue, Mr Towers said.

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But advocates say the service will only exacerbate New Zealand's binge-drinking culture.
Source: 1 NEWS