UPDATE: 4:20 pm
Severe weather has forced Nelson police to close some of the city’s roads.
Atawhai Drive has been closed as a precaution as the Founders Heritage Park’s windmill can be dangerous in strong winds.
The approaching high tide has shut down Rocks Road, with storm surges threatening the area.
Opus has also closed the road to all light vehicles from Richardson Street through to Bisley Avenue to allow the sea level to drop.
Car trapped between slips
A car is trapped between two slips which have closed the lower Buller Gorge, State Highway 6, between Inangahua and Westport.
“Our contractors have been in contact with the vehicle occupants, who are safe, and they remain in communication with them,” said NZ Transport Agency journey manager Lee Wright.
“We are working as quickly as possible to remove the debris to get the vehicle out.”
The slips, both near Summit Creek, were large and contained trees, rocks and mud, she said.
The agency’s contractors were on site and hoped to reopen the highway to single-lane traffic this afternoon.
There is no detour.
Torrential rain has caused extensive flooding across many parts of Buller.
Westport’s four schools have closed for the day because of surface flooding.
Westport firefighters have been out since dawn pumping floodwater threatening a number of properties. Blocked drains and the incoming tide – which forces back stormwater draining into the Buller River – have exacerbated problems.
Buller Civil Defence was advising people to stay at home or indoors if possible, secure their properties and help neighbours if they need assistance.
Public information manager Lana Thomas said Civil Defence was monitoring the situation.
The Westport Trotting Club will decide late this morning whether to proceed with its autumn meeting, set to start at 2.15pm.
The weather forecast is for rain easing this afternoon.
Ms Wright said there was extensive surface flooding in the Buller and Greymouth areas. Motorists were asked to avoid travel in the area or take extreme care on the roads.
Cricket outlook; rail delays
The bad weather would not effect those heading along to Sunday’s Cricket World Cup match between the Black Caps and Afghanistan in Napier.
Cricket fans could expect fine and dry weather, with westerly winds that would ease. A high of 25C could be expected.
Rail services south of Westport were also suspended today due to slips and fallen trees.
However, the Tranz Alpine passenger train from Christchurch to Greymouth had a clear run.
KiwiRail spokesman David Miller said all services in Buller were suspended due to a landslip in the Buller Gorge.
“Our track staff are working at the moment clearing a tree that has fallen on to the line, and trains are being held at Westport until the line is clear.
“We also have staff working between Westport and Ngakawau as there have been reports that a creek may have overflowed on to the tracks,” Mr Miller said.
“They will be checking the line and also clearing any debris.”
Meanwhile, a telecommunications outage this morning caused delays to rail services on the Midland Line, although there were no cancellations and the Tranz Alpine was running as usual.
– NZ Herald/Newstalk ZB