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Heavy rain expected over much of NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/01/2017

Ferry services in Wellington were disrupted and power temporarily cut to 500 homes near Upper Hutt as severe gales hit on Wednesday night.

With the strongest winds expected to hit in the early hours of Thursday morning, severe and possibly damaging gales gusting 150 or 160km/h are forecast over much of central New Zealand.

This includes Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough and Canterbury north of Ashburton.

"Winds of this strength can bring down trees and powerlines, damage unsecured structures, lift roofs and make travel hazardous," the MetService says.

Early on Wednesday, Metlink cancelled all Wellington harbour ferries before restarting limited services in the afternoon, while Wellington Electricity said one of its lines came down near Trentham around 4.30pm.

The NZ Transport Agency's Mark Owen has also urged motorist to be careful, while motorbikes and tall trucks and vans should consider avoiding travel.

"People travelling in and around the Wellington and Wairarapa region this evening and tomorrow morning should be aware that winds are expected to really pick up this evening," he said.

"The strongest gusts (are expected to come) in the early hours of Thursday morning."

"As conditions can change rapidly, we're urging people to check the latest weather and road updates before they start their journey."

Heavy rain is expected to continue falling overnight in Western and central New Zealand, particularly in Westland.

This includes an extra 150mm of rain in Westland, adding to that which had already fallen since a low pressure hit New Zealand from the west on Wednesday evening.

Heavy rain warnings are also in place for the Canterbury lakes and rivers, Buller and the ranges of north west Nelson.

Residents in Buller and the Nelson ranges can expect additional falls of up to 100mm overnight.

The MetService said such 100mm rainfalls could cause surface flooding, possible land slips and rivers and streams to rise rapidly.

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