Nearly 3000 residents in Wellington’s Eastbourne are cut off as extreme weather and swells close roads and cancel ferries.
Hutt City Council is advising Eastern Bays residents to stay at home where possible, and to avoid unnecessary travel until the weather clears.
Marine Drive on the east coast remains closed as strong winds and heavy swells hamper the clean-up operation.
“HCC contractors will commence clearance of debris deposited onto Marine Drive as soon as practicable to allow access for Eastern Bays residents,” the council said in a statement.
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Contractors are aiming to have the road open by 5pm on Thursday, subject to the weather conditions.
There is currently no access to Eastbourne via road and all East by West ferries have been cancelled.
A wave of up to 10 metres was recorded earlier on Thursday and most flights in and out of the capital have been cancelled until further notice.
MetService meteorologist Luis Fernandes said a 10-metre wave was recorded at the Wellington harbour entrance just before 11am on Thursday and regular 6m waves were coming through.
It was predicted they could still get bigger, he said. A heavy swell warning is in place until Friday afternoon.
Earlier, a Cook Strait Bluebridge ferry was stuck doing laps in the harbour, unable to berth due to powerful winds.
Bluebridge ferry spokesperson Wendy Pannett said its sailings this afternoon had already been cancelled, but the morning sailing was due to leave for Piction at 8.15am.
The ferry was unable to leave the harbour as weather conditions deteriorated quickly and came in earlier than expected.
A passenger said everyone onboard seemed “okay” but some people had to cancel arrangements and bookings in the South Island.
A heavy swell warning is in place until Friday afternoon, with swells up to 7 metres predicted.
The Hutt City Council said Seaview Drive was closed at the Gracefield intersection and Port Rd was also closed.
There was also surface flooding along Randwick Drive and Waiwhetu was facing surface flooding, the council said.
The highest gust of wind was at the top of Mt Kaukau, where a 122kph gust was recorded on Thursday morning, while Wellington Airport had a 113kph gust.
Wellington Harbourmaster Grant Nalder said a catamaran that had been moored in Lowry Bay, Lower Hutt had broken free and was washed against the seawall.
It had previously been moored at Mana in Porirua, he said. One hull was destroyed in the crash into the sea wall.
The owner had been working on the catamaran for a “number of years”, Nalder said. “It is going to be a heartbreak.”
Paul Haines, who has lived on Marine Dr in Lowry Bay for 12 years, said the catamaran had been moored off the Lowry Bay reclamation for about four or five weeks.
“Some time between 9am and 11am, it broke its moorings. It got onto the beach and has been smashed to smithereens. One of the hulls has ended up on the road with lots of debris from it washed all up the road.
“We’re used to them now, of course, but this is among the worst [storms] I’ve seen. There are logs and seaweed up people’s driveways,” he said.
Wellington Electricity has warned of power outages for 890 homes in Wainuiomata and Eastbourne in Hutt Valley. Power was expected to be back on about 3pm on Thursday.
Meanwhile, all flights in and out of Wellington Airport have been cancelled until further notice due to the weather conditions.
Airport spokesperson Phil Rennie said high winds were making it unsafe for baggage handlers to operate.
“Passengers are advised to check directly with their airlines for further information. We will provide regular updates as more information comes to hand.”
Some jet flights may be able to land and take off, but this was weather-dependent, Rennie said.