A number of flights in and out of Rotorua Airport were cancelled yesterday as heavy rain and winds ushered in the official start of winter.

Departures to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were scrapped after incoming flights were diverted because of the bad weather. MetService issued further severe weather warnings and watches yesterday for heavy rain expected to last into today.

Springfield weatherman Brian Holden said there had been 34mm of rain overnight on Monday, with northeasterly winds blowing at around 46km/h. Temperatures were mild compared to the ice-cold depths of last week. But Rotorua residents should expect wet weather for the next few days, Mr Holden said. "We are stuck with some showery weather just for the next day or two, but clearing up by the weekend."

Due to the rain warnings, Rotorua Lakes Council staff were checking creeks, drains and stormwater outlets yesterday - and all sports fields under council control were closed last night.

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A council spokesperson said other than blocked pipes, there had been no weather-related issues reported.

However, Whakatane District Council struck a greater note of concern, warning those who lived or worked near escarpments to watch out for landslides.

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