A helicopter will fly to tourists trapped near Fox Glacier this morning.

The priority for emergency teams this morning was to reach 115 tourists who spent an uncomfortable night in their cars after becoming stranded between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.

They include about 20 young people aboard a Kiwi Experience bus.

Damage from ex-Tropical Cyclone Fehi blocked parts of State Highway 6 yesterday, including between from Ross to Makarora, which covers Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.


A Westland Civil Defence spokesman says a helicopter will be sent soon.

Slips on Punakaiki Rd, SH 6, in Punakaiki. Photo / Sophie Allan
Slips on Punakaiki Rd, SH 6, in Punakaiki. Photo / Sophie Allan

A state of emergency remains in Dunedin and Buller this morning after heavy rain and strong winds lashed the country overnight as ex-cyclone Fehi passed through.

Buller Civil Defence said this morning the high tide in the early hours had not resulted in another major storm surge and people who had to leave their homes had found places to stay for the night.

"All those who had to leave their homes are safe in motels or with friends and family."

Power has been restored in some parts of the country, although thousands spent the night without.

More than 2000 homes in the Fox Glacier and Inangahua areas were without power, and power generators were supplying electricity to at least 3500 properties in Hokitika, Hari Hari and Whataroa.

Fire and Emergency said it had a relatively quiet night overnight with few weather-related call outs.

Waves lap over State Highway 6 at Punakaiki. Photo / Martijn van der Maarel
Waves lap over State Highway 6 at Punakaiki. Photo / Martijn van der Maarel

In Nelson about 100 properties remained without power overnight, as well as about 30 in Christchurch. In Taranaki all power was restored apart from about 40 homes in Patea.


The storm continued to wreak havoc across parts of the country, and in Westland an emergency operations centre was opened last night.

In response to the state of emergencies Spark has opened up its WiFi network to everyone across the South Island.

"Anyone who needs to (whether you're a customer or not) is welcome to use free Spark WiFi to stay in touch with friends and family."

King tides this morning could still pose challenges for low-lying areas of the country, and are scheduled in Kaiaua from 8.22am and at Westhaven, Auckland, at 9.37am.

WeatherWatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan said left overs of the storm would hover around both islands today, with heavy rain still affecting parts of the West Coast and Nelson ranges.

"The worst is definitely over now across the whole country and we will see a gradual improvement in a number of areas, with the exception of maybe central New Zealand," he said.

Duncan said Kiwis would have to wait another week to get back into that feel of summer.

"Places like Auckland have showers in the forecast, some of them could be quite heavy, and there will be some areas with downpours and showers, while other areas are sunny and dry.

"It is fickle weather and nothing too dramatic going on, but there is another cold front coming into the South Island by the end of the weekend, which will again drop temperatures there.

"It will feel like autumn for some South Islanders this weekend and early next week too."

Duncan said the heat wave was definitely over for now, with parts of the lower South Island dropping to temperatures of 6C and 7C.

"Which is a very dramatic drop from having highs in the late 30s. In fact it is snowing on the ranges of ski fields in Queenstown," he said.

But we shouldn't be in a hurry to hang up our rain jackets: another tropical is storm is looming.

"By the end of next week we will be looking at another tropical low," Duncan said.

"It is not necessarily going to be a storm, but there are signs that there are going to be tropical cyclones to the north of the country.

"We are certainly not finished yet with this La Nina weather pattern."

Yesterday, 26 schools were closed - 13 on the West Coast and 13 in Otago.

Eight preschools were also closed.

The Ministry of Education advises parents to keep in contact with schools and early learning centres today.

​The Ministry's Deputy Secretary for Support Katrina Casey said the ministry was in close contact with schools near wastewater overflows.

"It may well be that schools are okay, but access to them might be a problem. It's also possible that some schools may be affected by waste water issues."

Yesterday's storm surge and king tide caused a sewage pump failure in Nelson,​ leading to an overflow of untreated sewage and stormwater contaminants into Nelson Haven and Waimea Estuary.

Nelson City Council is advising the public not to swim or have contact with the water in those areas, including Tahunanui Beach.