June 30, 2008

Wild Weather Batters Parts of New Zealand

Wild weather batters parts of New Zealand

WELLINGTON, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Snow, rain and gale force winds closed roads, halted interisland ferry travel and threw the plans of some air travelers in Wellington into disarray on Sunday.

Roads in the central North Island were closed because of snow and ice around Mount Ruapehu, the New Zealand Press Association reported.

And in the South Island, police warned drivers to be cautious as snow and ice made roads in the central and southern South Island dangerous.

Snow had closed the Desert Road but by midday police said State Highway 49 from Ohakune to Waiouru, and SH1 from Waiouru to Taihape have been reopen.

On Sunday Afternoon, Cook Strait ferry crossings linking North and South Island have also been canceled as winds and 7-meter swells make conditions too rough. Hundreds of travelers have been affected.

More than 20 Air New Zealand flights into and out of Wellington Airport have been canceled because of the rough weather.

Air NZ spokeswoman Tracy Palmer said most of the canceled flights were run by link carriers, including Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airlines.

Flights by larger aircraft were not cancelled as the issue affected only those flights where passengers needed to cross the tarmac.

MetService forecasts wind and rain to ease in North Canterbury and Kaikoura on Sunday afternoon but severe gale southerlies and heavy rain were set to continue for Wellington and Wairarapa until Sunday night.

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