New Zealand braces for second major storm in two weeks

Disaster authorities urge people to reconsider travels over Easter weekend

New Zealand on Thursday braced for the tail wind of a cyclone as authorities evacuated seaside areas, closed schools and warned people to reconsider their Easter holiday plans.

The remainder of Cyclone Cook, which had killed one person this week in New Caledonia, was expected to make landfall in New Zealand’s North Island on Thursday evening.

The country’s meteorological service issued severe weather warnings for the upper North Island and warned of landslides, flooding and wind damage from gusts of up to 150 kilometres an hour.

“We’re worried,” Tony Bonne, the mayor of Whakatane district, one of the areas expected to bear the brunt of the storm, said on local radio.


Seaside areas of the Coromandel Peninsula, north of Auckland were being evacuated and people told to take shelter in Civil Defence centres, although disaster management agency said it did not yet know how many people would have to leave their homes.

More than 100 schools were shut and universities in Auckland were closing early on Thursday. Disaster authorities asked people to avoid hardest-hit towns and reconsider their travels over the four-day Easter weekend.

National airline Air New Zealand warned of “significant disruption” from the weather with many flights likely to be delayed or cancelled and the New Zealand Transport Agency said it was considering closing the Auckland Harbour Bridge, a major thoroughfare in the country’s largest city.

The tail-end of another powerful cyclone, Debbie, had already slammed the country last week, wreaking havoc and leaving the town Edgecumbe flooded by thigh-high water with many people still unable to return to their homes.