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Cyclone Gita makes landfall in New Zealand

20 February 2018

New Zealand's MetService issued severe weather warnings for most of the country's South Island, expected to be hit by heavy rain and gale-force winds, while it said western areas of the North Island will face strong northerly winds.

Seven districts - including Christchurch, Grey District and Buller District have declared a state of emergency as the cyclone began to make landfall overnight.

Cyclone Gita hit central New Zealand on Tuesday night with torrential rain and win gusts of 130 kph (80 mph) taking down trees and tearing off roofs.

Even before the storm hit in full force, heavy rains in the centre of New Zealand brought floods in Christchurch, prompting a warning from Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Cyclone Gita hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji and Tonga last week, packing winds up to 275 km/h.

'We are expecting homes to be flooded'.

Power cuts have affected thousands of homes across the country, dozens of schools have been closed in the upper South Island and there were reports of water supply problems. Widespread flooding and power outages were expected.

The TranzAlpine tourist train service was cancelled on Tuesday and for Wednesday as visitors were encouraged to leave low-lying areas.

Nelson on edge as Cyclone Gita bears down on the battered region. Compared with 2017, wine grapes in the vineyards are three weeks ahead in their development.

The winds have weakened as the storm has arced through the Pacific, but it is still causing disruptions in New Zealand.

Cyclone Gita makes landfall in New Zealand