A rare ‘red warning’ has been issued for parts of the South Island, where strong winds and rain are starting to hit.

MetService has issued a 'red warning' for heavy rain from Fox Glacier north to Buller.MetService has issued a ‘red warning’ for heavy rain from Fox Glacier north to Buller. Photo: MetService


MetService issued the warning, just the third issued since 2019, and said the heavy rainfall could bring significant flooding and the risk of slips from central Westland to Buller.

“A red warning is in force for significant heavy rain from central Westland to Buller. Flooding is likely, as are slips and disruption to transport. Some communities could become isolated, and livestock should be moved to high ground,” it said.

It also said up to 400mm of rain in the ranges, and 200mm on the coast, is expected to fall through to Saturday morning.

Meteorologist Karl Loots said there had been persistent rain overnight in the Buller and Westland districts, but it was to get heavier from this morning.

He said the rain may cause surface flooding, slips and river levels to rise quickly.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said there would definitely be flooding and slips in the region over the next 24 hours and people should prepare for possible power outages.

Smith said it’s likely to be worse for the northern part of the West Coast.

He said people should stay off the roads unless it was necessary.

“Make sure you’re prepared and make sure your families have got their Civil Defence pack there, we’re hoping it won’t be needed but preparation, preparation, preparation.”

Northerly gales and heavy rain were also being forecast for other parts of central and southern New Zealand.

“Severe northerly gales about parts of central New Zealand could damage trees, power lines and unsecured structures, and make driving hazardous,” MetService said.