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Storms Start Lashing Parts Of NZ
02/01/2006 11:36 AM
Unseasonal weather has come as an unwelcome surprise for campgrounds across the lower South Island.

MetService is forecasting severe weather in both islands, with winds already gusting to 160 kilometres per hour in parts of the far south.

Howling winds and rain have seen many pack up their tents and leave. Ten groups have quit the Pounawea campground at Owaka, south of Balcutha, since the bad weather set in.

Lessee Robin Miller says not many guests got a lot of sleep last night, and some have decided enough is enough. He says more are likely to leave today as the winds get even stronger. Mr Miller says the gusts are so strong there are white caps on the estuary.

Meanwhile, power is out in parts of the capital.

Two faults in Wellington have cut power to up to 1300 homes in the northern suburbs, and to Plimmerton on the Kapiti Coast. United Networks' Wellington staff have been placed on standby in case strong winds dish up more problems.

People living on the country's eastern coasts are being urged to keep off the roads today.

MetService Forecaster Michael Short says the North Island will also be affected today by the low, with heavy rain around the Tararua Ranges and Mt Taranaki. Mr Short says motorists and cyclists need to take extreme care, while caravanners should think twice about setting out at all.