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Powerful waves batter western NZ

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/05/2016

Waves with so much energy that they only occur once a year are battering the western coast of New Zealand.

Australian storm winds generated the powerful waves which arrived on the south-west coast of the South Island on Wednesday evening and are moving up the North Island's west coast on Thursday.

While the four metre swell is not particularly big, the swell period is unusually long.

This produces large breaking waves inshore which could be dangerous to swimmers along the west coast and may also put boat moorings under a lot of stress, the MetService says.

The wave energy is indicated by the wave period which, at 20 to 22 seconds, is an event that New Zealand only experiences once a year, or less.

"Waves may look impressive but can be dangerous especially for those fishing on-shore or walking along coastal pathways," meteorologist Lisa Murray said.

The long swell periods are expected to ease slowly over the next few days.

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