Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Huge wind gusts reported around NZ

Despite 120km/h gales in the South Island and lower North Island there have been no reports of damage, emergency services say.

MetService spokeswoman Philippa Murdoch said wind gusts reaching 120km/h have buffeted Wellington, Southland, Otago and Canterbury today.

A top gust of 140km/h was recorded at Castlepoint in Wairarapa.

The gales were expected to ease overnight and would be replaced by rain in Wellington.

People in central Wellington reported what was thought to be a mini tornado on Lambton Quay, which whipped up dust to cover nearby buildings.

Neither MetService nor NIWA were able to confirm this.

WeatherWatch.co.nz analyst Philip Duncan said it was more likely to be a "dust devil", which is wind swirling around on the ground.

"If you've got the right conditions they can go right up into the sky and look quite impressive, especially if they hit dust or sand or something."

It happens often in cities around buildings, he said.

"You get a wind hitting a wall and it comes off on an angle and starts spinning, and once it starts spinning it can propel itself a little bit."

Mr Duncan said the worst that normally happened was people getting sand or dust in their eyes.

Police and the Fire Service in Wellington and the South Island said despite the wild weather, there had been no major reports of damage.

A tree had fallen over in Christchurch and a motorcyclist had been blown off his bike in Dunedin, but that was all that had been reported, a southern fire communications spokesman said.

At the other extreme, Timaru residents were sweltering in 25degC today - the highest spring temperature so far, according to WeatherWatch.co.nz.

Weather analyst Aaron Wilkinson said the high temperature was caused by a northwesterly airflow over the country.

The highest rainfall for the past 24 hours was on the West Coast of the South Island near the glaciers, and in the ranges behind Gisborne, with 10 to 15mm falling in each area.

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- APNZ

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