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The bad weather that has brought snow to much of the South Island has also resulted in the evacuation of eleven homes on the West Coast due to flooding fears.

Eleven homes at Coal Creek were evacuated this morning due to flooding, while storm-force winds and rain caused havoc in nearby Greymouth.

A family of nine was evacuated from their flooded home adjacent to the Camp overbridge, near Runanga this morning.

Water was 45cm deep through the property when the Runanga Volunteer Fire Brigade moved the Stollery family to higher ground.

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Emergency services were called just before daybreak and the family was full of praise for the prompt response.

"The Runanga brigade was just awesome,'' Tamare Stollery, mother of six, said.

"I just got off the phone and they were here,'' daughter Sarah said. She was piggy-backed through the water by a fireman, and then up the bank to the highway.

"The little ones (aged two and four) were a bit upset, but they were soon cheered up with some lollies from the firemen,'' she said.

The family switched off the power to the house when they noticed water coming up through the floorboards.

They were keeping an eye on the water level about 4am as the rain was bucketing down, and soon decided to call the police.

The family had only moved a few weeks ago from Blackball to their new home at Coal Creek. Uninsured they had lost everything, including another family member's property that was stored in a garage.

The family was taken to the Runanga fire station, where they were given breakfast, and were later taken to stay with relatives on the Coast Road.

Meanwhile, near gale force winds lifted roofs in Greymouth, snow fell at Blackball and Jacksons, and Arthur's Pass was completely cut off in the first polar blast of winter. There were reports of sleet in Boddytown and Cobden, where floodwaters were also causing problems.

Ross, Harihari and Whataroa schools were all shut by high winds; in many cases the school buses could not get through, and the power supply was coming and going.

The Runanga Takeaways was the first call-out for the Cobden, Runanga and Greymouth fire brigades, when about 10cm of water went through the shop.

Bryan Blanch said they were open as a dairy this morning, but could not cook.

"We got flooded out from the creek next door, which blocked up. There's a lot of cleaning.''

Families and young children were evacuated to the Runanga fire station about 8.30am after severe flooding in Ward Street, Runanga, and around the Camp Creek overbridge, at Coal Creek.

Cobden fire chief Gary Pollock said that with water blocking access to homes in the McLeans Pit area, firefighters had to walk around the rear of the properties to help the owners carry their pets to safety.

Transport operator Cliff Sandrey said he used a loader to get Spring Creek miners across the flooded Coal Creek and back home again after their shift ended.

Other call-outs included to a window that was blown out in Bright Street. Flooding was particularly bad in Peel, Hall and Ward streets.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn authorised contractors to open the 'cut' in Cobden, allowing backed up floodwaters to escape to sea.

Range Creek, running through the middle of the suburb, burst its banks.

Mr Kokshoorn said the water was about "one foot under some houses'' and more rain was forecast.

"I'd rather be safe than sorry,'' he said.

In Greymouth, Kidsfirst Kingergarten in Shakespeare Street was closed, and the Greymouth Star lost part of its roof and a roller door buckled in the strong winds. Trampolines went flying _ including two in one street _ and Mawhera Quay was closed for a time while firemen secured the roof and frontage of an old second-hand shop, which threatened to collapse.

Grey District Council civil defence emergency manager Allan Wilson said they were worried about the parapet and were having it assessed.

Department of Conservation staff at Arthur's Pass said 15cm of snow had fallen overnight, and by mid-morning it was still snowing. With Porters Pass also shut, the alpine village was quiet this morning.

Ross School principal Shane Baillie, who lives nearer Hokitika, could not get past the weighbridge south of Ruatapu.

"There were trees down, the contractors were busy working on that,'' he said.

State highway 6 and the school were both shut at Inangahua Junction. By 9.30am the red marks at the top of the roadside pegs were all that were visible between the turnoff for the State highway and the village. It meant travellers could get from Reefton to Westport, but not Reefton to Murchison and Nelson.

Greymouth weather observer Phil Forrest recorded 147mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am today. Kumara had 90mm by 7am.

The NZ Transport Agency was more hopeful of reopening Arthur's Pass at lunchtime, than it was of opening the Lewis.

"Our guys have been working through the night in continuous shifts. De-icing agent had been put down, which will help us to remove the snow,'' West Coast senior asset manager Mark Pinner said.

Further up the coast, fifty sandbags remain in place in Murchison, but flood waters appear to be receding, according to the Nelson Tasman Region Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group. Flooding on Faifax and Hampden streets affected one commercial property, one residential property and the recreation centre, however this has been cleared.

Civil Defence said there are also a few slips have been reported around Longford and hills in Murchison, but no roads or property is in danger.

In Nelson, Isel Park is closed due to windy conditions and the risk of falling tree branches. Tahunanui Reserve back beach is also closed due to storm tide debris and risk of falling tree branches.

Winds with gusts up to 130kmh are forecast to lash the Tasman region

Snow has been reported in Rappahannock, Matakitaki and Tophouse, but not at a level to cause concern. Korere-Tophouse Road was closed near Tophouse after a truck and trailer unit lost control in about 10-40mm of snow, blocking the road.

Snow blankets Canterbury

Snow continues to blanket the city of Christchurch and parts of Canterbury, causing much of the region to grind to a halt today.

Snow is still falling across much of Canterbury, including Hanmer Springs, Twizel, Burnham, Kirwee, and West Milton.

It's also fallen to ground level in Christchurch city with 10cm reported in the central city and up to 15-20cm out by the airport.

Christchurch Airport remains open, however flights have been delayed. A spokeswoman said runways are being cleared of snow and she advised passengers to check the status of their flights with individual airlines.

Approximately Orion 400 customers in parts of Harewood, West Melton and McLeans Island are without power due to the weather and a car collision with a power pole. The company says teams are working as quickly as possible to restore power.

Metro buses have had to alter routes in Christchurch due to the snow, with services stopping at the bottom of hill roads.

New Zealand Post has had to suspend the delivery of mail in Greymouth and its outlying areas, Rangiora and Kaiapoi, Ashburton and Christchurch, due to the weather. Delays are also expected to mail deliveries in Westport, Gore and Balclutha.

The following schools are closed: All Ashburton schools and preschools, Addington School, Darfield High School, Ellesmere College, Kaiapoi North School, Loburn School, Middleton Grange School, Oxford Area School, Rangiora High School, St Thomas Of Canterbury College, Taitapu School, Waiau School, Waitaha School, West Eyreton School, and West Melton School. Cashmere Primary has a delayed opening, with an update to be made at 10.30am.

The University of Canterbury was due to close at midday.

Dunedin airport flights resume

Flights at Dunedin airport have now resumed after 10 flights were cancelled this morning.

Dunedin International Airport chief John McCall says the cold blast caused significant disruption this morning.

He said operations had to be suspended entirely with significant black ice on the runway and disruptions to the national network causing five arrivals and five departures to cancel.

Mr McCall said the airport is now functioning but airlines will have a backlog of passengers to accommodate.

The city is experiencing its first real day of winter, but has missed out on heavy snowfall.

The Dunedin city centre is relatively snow free while the hills and outlying suburbs have borne the brunt of the cold blast.

Dunedin Police Senior Sergeant Bruce Ross said there had been a few minor traffic incidents mainly caused by black ice.

He says there was probably a late freeze, the temperature at 9am was minus 2 degrees, but has now warmed up to five degrees.

The Otago Regional Council suspended bus services on the hill areas this morning because of snow and ice, the services are now running.

No serious crashes

Canterbury District police communications manager Stephen Hill said there have been 13 motor accidents up until 12pm, none of them serious. In two of the accidents passengers suffered minor injuries, including one where a vehicle rolled onto its roof in Parklands.

A power pole was knocked over In an accident in West Melton, knocking out power to about 400 residents.

Mr Hill said most drivers appear to be heeding warnings and driving to conditions, or avoiding non-essential travel.

He said police have 10 four-wheel-drive vehicles available across the district and have hired another 12 to boost the ability to respond to incidents. The Four Wheel Drive Club is also assisting with staff transport, Mr Hill said.

Rough weather hits Wellington

The wind, rain and cold temperatures caused problems in Wellington overnight.

Trees were brought down in the capital and torrential rain caused extensive surface flooding.

Speed restrictions are in place, dropping to 80km/h on highways between Johnsonville and Wellington, and police are urging motorists to drive with extreme caution.

A spokesman for the Fire Service central communications centre said powerlines had been bought down in the Hutt Valley and Kilbirnie due to high winds, but crews had not been called out due to flooding.

Despite NZTA warning of possible surface flooding on Auckland's Northwestern and Northern motorways as a king tide hit about 8am, spokesman Ewart Barnsley said there was no flooding this morning and all the lanes were kept open.

The next king tide is expected at 9pm.

MetService warnings

MetService said a deep lower is expected to approach the upper South Island from the west this morning, then weaken slightly and pass east over the central North Island tonight.

A cold front, which is bringing heavy snow to Canterbury and parts of Marlborough and heavy rain to Westland, Buller, Nelson and the north of Marlborough, sits about Cook Strait and is expected to move north.

Heavy rain warnings are in place for Westland north of Hokitika, Buller, Nelson and Marlborough north of Seddon, with 80mm to 120mm forecast in the 18 hours from 6am.

MetService is also warning of strong winds - up to 130kmh in exposed areas - about Nelson, Buller and Westland.

A heavy snow warning is in place for Canterbury and Marlborough south of Seddon, with 50cm to 100cm of snow possible above 300 metres in the 18 hours from 6am, but 10 to 40cm south of about Lake Tekapo. Between 100m and 300m above sea level 15cm to 40cm may accumulate, but 40 to 60cm about Banks Peninsula.

MetService warned the heavy snow will make travelling difficult and cause stress for livestock.

The following State Highways are closed due to snow or flooding: SH65 (Shenandoah to Maruia), SH6 (Inangahua to Inangahua Junction), SH73 Arthurs Pass SH73 Porters Pass, SH6 Runanga to Greymouth and SH7 Lewis Pass. Updates on the status of state highways can be found here. The AA also have a list of road closures and restrictions here.

Queenstown Lakes District Council said there are icy conditions across the district, and chains must be used when driving along the Crown Range.