Tess Nichol is the Consumer Affairs reporter for the Herald.

High winds stop Shaun Johnson and Kayla Cullen visiting quake-hit Kaikoura

Shaun Johnson and Kayla Cullen had to cancel a trip to Kaikoura after strong winds meant all small planes and helicopters were grounded. Photo/ Facebook
Shaun Johnson and Kayla Cullen had to cancel a trip to Kaikoura after strong winds meant all small planes and helicopters were grounded. Photo/ Facebook

Nearly all routes in and out of Kaikoura are closed today as high winds across the South Island mean small planes and helicopters are grounded, Civil Defence says.

Last night's rain in the region also meant the emergency access road, Inland Rd, was closed.

The weather scuppered the plans of two Kiwi sports stars who had planned to visit the quake-hit region for a friendly multi-sport tournament.

Warriors star Shaun Johnson Silver Fern Kayla Cullen were supposed to play in the five-a-side touch tournament, dubbed the Kaikoura Fives, arriving by chopper at 2pm today.

At 11am it was announced via social media the plan would not be going ahead.

The whole tournament has been called off.

"I've just been told that we're unable to get into Kaikoura today, the weather's a bit windy and there's no choppers available," Johnson said in a video on the Sports Tasman Kaikoura Facebook page.

"I want to say how sorry we are, myself and Kayla, it's we were really looking forward to doing playing sports and just hanging out with you guys."

He promised the pair would be down in early 2017, saying it would be the best day of the year.

"We'll make it the best day of the year. Stay safe and we'll make it soon."

Johnson was currently on leave from the Warriors and had organised the trip in his own time, said Warriors spokesman Richard Becht.

On Facebook, the tournament's organisers expressed disappointment they'd had to cancel, saying they'd done everything they could to try and pull the event off.

The post promised Johnson was committed to coming down, saying he would do something "a bit bigger" next year.

The sports stars had been scheduled to sign autographs and meet locals before the tournament began at 3pm.

Johnson was signed up as a sub, giving Kaikoura residents the chance to play alongside the star player.

- NZ Herald

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