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Passengers hoping to cross the Cook Strait by ferry today have had their plans dashed, with all crossings being cancelled due to wild weather conditions.

All Bluebridge and Interislander ferry sailings were cancelled as high winds and big swells affected the Cook Strait.

It was hoped crossings would begin again tomorrow when conditions were expected to ease, spokesmen from both companies said.

The high winds had also closed a road near Upper Hutt.


Several power poles on Blue Mountains Road had been damaged and had blocked the road to all traffic, police said.

Emergency services and council workers were working to clear the area.

Meanwhile, the MetService has issued a severe weather warning for southerly gales, heavy snow and heavy rain nationwide.

A strong cold southerly airstream was expected to bring snow to the central North Island, with heavy falls of 15-25cm predicted to fall this afternoon and evening.

The Desert Road, State Highway 49 through Ohakune and SH4 through Tongariro National Park were likely to be affected.

Heavy rain was expected this evening for Canterbury to the Kaikoura Coast, southeast of Blenheim, the MetService said.

Severe southerly gales were expected for Banks Peninsula, east of Christchurch, to the Wairarapa, with gusts reaching up to 120km/h at times.

A severe weather watch for heavy rain in Wellington and the Wairarapa all weekend was also issued, with a low expected to bring heavy rain in the coastal hills of the Wairarapa, southern and eastern slopes of the Tararua Ranges, and Wellington.