The south of the South Island saw the hottest temperatures creeping up to or over the 30 degree mark today and tomorrow the North Island should also expect high temperatures, according to analyst Richard Green.

Sweltering temperatures hit the south with Dunedin Airport topping the stakes at 34 degrees. Alexandra was on 33, Timaru, 32 and Ashburton, Hanmer Springs, Culverden and Queenstown all hit 30.

The main centre highs were:
* Auckland 25 degrees
* Tauranga 25 degrees
* Hamilton 26 degrees
* Wellington 24 degrees
* Christchurch 25 degrees
* Dunedin City 26 degrees
* Invercargill 28 degrees

The fire risk was climbing and eastern parts of the North Island and inland and eastern areas of the South Island was already high to very high in places.


Water temperatures were also increasing around the country and were above average across some northern and central beaches, Mr Green said.

Meanwhile, the South Island was still drying out after days of heavy rain that washed away a bridge and caused holiday traffic mayhem.

The West Coast's main road is closed for at least another three days, and railway lines have been shut down.

The wild weather washed out Wanganui River bridge at Harihari, south of Hokitika, on Wednesday, splitting the coast in half, and causing holidaymakers to make massive detours.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said Wanganui bridge would be closed at least until midday next Tuesday (January 8).

The latest flooding victims have been trains, with several railway lines being shut down yesterday.

KiwiRail said it was continuing to assess and repair damage at a number of sites on the West Coast.

The railway line between Christchurch and Greymouth, and through the Buller Gorge remained closed and all train services had been cancelled.

The section of line running through the Buller Gorge has been particularly hard hit, with the difficult terrain in the area hampering access by track workers to assess the situation and begin the repair job.

Several bridges had been damaged, one significantly, and slips and washouts had damaged track at a number of locations, a spokeswoman said.

It was anticipated the line between Christchurch and Greymouth will be back in operation within two to three days, allowing the resumption of the Tranz Alpine and freight services across the Southern Alps.

Coach services are in place for passengers with bookings on the Tranz Alpine.

However, the section through the Buller Gorge will take longer for repairs to be completed, and coal services from the Westport area may not resume for at least a week.