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Auckland dodges worst of cyclone

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/04/2017

Auckland looks set to avoid the worst of Cyclone Cook but some residents should still rethink their Easter travel plans, authorities say.

Auckland Civil Defence says with the weather system is tracking further east than expected, and is scaling back warnings about the cyclone which is due to make landfall between Tauranga and Whakatane at 6pm.

The region's stormwater service had received 418 calls, 240 of them emergency calls, after up to 70mm of rain fell in some parts in 24 hours.

"Cyclone Cook grazed Waiheke and Great Barrier islands with bands of rain and high winds. The Hunua Ranges and Clevedon coast also got some showers but not to the extent that we expected this morning," head of emergency management operations Aaron Davis said.

The MetService has lifted a heavy wind warning for the region and Great Barrier Island but says heavy rain - of between 20 and 40mm - could still fall in the evening.

Mr Davis said Aucklanders should still reconsider their Easter weekend plans if they were travelling south.

"It is still important for people thinking about heading south for Easter weekend to cancel or delay travel to the Waikato - including Coromandel - and Bay of Plenty regions," he said.

Fears the cyclone would more directly hit Auckland, possibly closing the harbour bridge, prompted staff and students to be sent home early across the city on Thursday, causing traffic congestion in some parts during the early afternoon.

"They have made smart choices about their travel and, while this brought the afternoon peak forward, it allowed traffic to clear earlier," Mr Davis said.

Additional buses were put on to cope with demand, and heavy rain also caused landslips across the region and forced the cancellation of some ferry crossing.

Auckland Civil Defence has reverted from activation to monitoring and will have two staff keep an eye on the weather overnight.

Drivers are still being urged to remain cautious about surface flooding and slips.

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