Severe weather wreaks havoc on South Island Roads

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 22, 2023

Weather warnings are in place across the South Island and parts of the lower North Island.

Thursday saw Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency advise several southern highways were closed, and councils in Otago and Southland reported several local road closures due to flooding, slips and fallen trees.

MetService issued heavy rain warnings for Tasman, west of Motueka, and the Bryant and northern Richmond Ranges near Nelson.

They apply from midday Friday to midday on Saturday, with up to 150mm of rain forecast.

For Saturday, heavy rain watches are in place for Wellington, Kapiti Coast, Wairarapa and the Tararua Ranges.

Road users are encouraged to drive to the conditions as wet weather affects highways across the regions.

Meanwhile, heavy rain and flooding has triggered local states of emergency in Queenstown and Southland, with some residents forced to evacuate.

Queenstown declared a local state of emergency in the district on Friday. It comes after Gore also declared a state of emergency on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Glyn Lewers said the declaration was necessary given the considerable rainfall experienced by Queenstown over the last 24 hours.

“The current weather event is an active and evolving situation. We have been working with emergency management throughout the night to assess the full extent of the situation in the current conditions.”

“Several flooding and debris events have been identified and we’re continuing to contact affected people including evacuating over 100 people. A temporary evacuation centre has been set up at St Peters Church to manage evacuees who have not been able to relocate.”

Torrential rain caused significant surface flooding throughout the parts of Southland, with several routes closed including State Highway 1 between Gore and Mataura and State Highway 8 from Parawa to Kingston.

Road users are encouraged to drive to the conditions as wet weather affects highways across the regions.

This means increasing following distances, taking extra care when braking, ensuring your headlights are on if there is rain and fog, and reducing speed. Wet roads are slippery roads – the faster you go, the longer it will take to stop.

Road users should also check road and weather conditions before travelling.