This week's cold weather came to a head yesterday as hundreds of homes were left without power and significant rainfall caused surface flooding and slips across the region.

Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said that at its peak yesterday 400 homes were without power, mostly in Havelock North, Waimarama and northern Hawke's Bay.

Whole trees, branches and debris flying about in the strong winds and rain were the cause of most of these outages, he said.

The large power cuts were first reported in Waimarama just after 9am when 489 customers lost power and by 10am hundreds more were affected across the entire region.

Advertisement

The Napier Taupo Rd remained closed for most of yesterday due to snow and ice, opening about 3pm, and in the early afternoon flooding closed State Highway 38 from Wairoa to Te Urewera National Park.

Area warnings were in place due to flooding for SH50 from Takapau to Waiohiki and also SH2 from Takapau to Wairoa for most of the day.

The Taihape Rd remained closed yesterday to everyone but residents from the Kaweka Forestry headquarters to the Rangitikei end.

Last night Mr Gough said there was only a "very isolated pocket" along the Napier Taupo Rd still without power.

"It's all pretty much done. It has been a big day but we've breathed a sigh of relief because it could have been much worse considering the weather conditions."

MetService meteorologist April Clark said yesterday's wild weather was the result of an unstable low forming to the east of Hawke's Bay.

She said a southeasterly resulted in substantial rainfall and a southerly had brought cold air that created the conditions for the morning snowfall which had dropped to 600m above sea level.

Ms Clark said wind gusts of up to 144km/h were recorded at Mahia Peninsula, 85km/h in Wairoa and 67km/h in Napier.

Rain had started falling overnight on Thursday and significant downpours in the Hawke's Bay ranges resulted in 91mm of rainfall in 24 hours; a figure almost at warning criteria, Ms Clark said.

Other parts of Hawke's Bay received smaller amounts of rain with Hastings getting 33mm, Napier 24mm and Wairoa 64mm in the same 24-hour period.

The weather was set to take a turn for the better this weekend as the low was expected to ease Friday night as it pulled off to the east of Hawke's Bay, Ms Clark said.

Heavy snow warnings for the Hawke's Bay ranges were lifted at 4.31pm yesterday as the strong, cold southerly flow over the North Island continued to ease.

MetService noted there could be several snow showers about the ranges above 900m but the threat of further significant falls had passed.

Ms Clark said showers should have eased by Saturday morning and only Wairoa would be getting wet weather by the afternoon.

"Sunday is looking fine but because the skies are clear this will mean quite a cold start in the morning. Generally it's looking good though with some high cloud in the evening."

For the latest state highway information visit http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/regions/6.