Motorists urged to postpone West Coast travel due to flooding and heavy rain

West Coast motorists should delay travel if possible, say police.


West Coast motorists should delay travel if possible, say police.

Police are advising motorists to delay any travel on the West Coast because of heavy rain in the area, which is particularly affecting South Westland.

All roads in the area remain open, despite extensive surface flooding around State Highway 6, especially in Westland, said Waka Kotahi journey manager Tresca Forrester.

Forrester said a decision was due shortly as to whether the highway would be closed overnight. The road remained open as at 7.30pm.

“It’s just for safety purposes. There’s no damage to the road, and it would reopen at first light tomorrow morning.

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“The weather in Westland has eased a little bit, we’re just waiting to see if the surface flooding eases as well.

“Further up the coast, where the system has moved in around Greymouth, Hokitika, and heading up to Westport, we’re just keeping a watching brief.

“We have crews monitoring the situation and will be overnight. If it does become unsafe, we will close it”, she said.

Metservice forecaster Sonja Farmer said the rain band was predominantly over the Hokitika area as of late Saturday afternoon.

“Hokitika has certainly had the heaviest rainfall in the last hour [between five and six pm], though not overall. They’ve had 63 millilitres since midnight, but the heaviest falls have been further south.

“Franz Josef had 121 ml since midnight – the heaviest rainfall for them was between one and three am, when they had 45 ml.

“The river area halfway between Haast and Hokitika has had 125 ml since midnight, there’s been four or five hours of fairly heavy rain, 15 to 21 ml per hour for about five hours.

“The system is travelling slowly, bumping up against that high pressure in the north, so the rain has more time to hang around”, said Farmer.

MetService issued an orange heavy rain warning for the entire West Coast at 9am Saturday.

On Saturday and Sunday, a front will move slowly north across the South Island bringing heavy rain to western parts.

The Buller District can expect 100 to 150 mm of rain, but it could be as high as 200 mm in the ranges.

Flooding may occur across the region, and driving conditions may be hazardous according to the Metservice warning, which is in place until 6pm Sunday.

A further update is expected from Metservice late Saturday night.

Further information is available from NZTA Waka Kotahi.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said State Highway 6 was closed in places, due to incorrect information being provided. Updated 7:30pm, November 27, 2021.

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