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Wellington today, September 13: 130kmh gusts, tramper trapped in Tararuas, quiet times for bars and retailers


Mōrena Wellington, Bill Hickman here, hold onto your hats, we’re in for another day of windy weather – I know you’re just as surprised as I am.

8.50am: Tramper trapped in Tararuas

Three search and rescue teams spent the night in huts in the Tararua ranges last night in response to two incidents.

Two teams stayed at Jumbo Hut and Atiwhakatu Hut overnight after responding to an Emergency Locator Beacon triggered near the summit of Mt McGregor about 9.06pm on Sunday.

The teams of three searchers each were yet to locate a man who set off the beacon and would resume searching early Monday morning.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the man had been in contact with family and was not injured but was trapped by the extreme weather conditions.

Searchers were making their way to the man’s location shortly after 7.30am “in very poor weather conditions”.

Searchers had located a woman who had become stranded after falling multiple times in high winds at about 5.40pm on Sunday.

The woman was not injured but was suffering from mild hypothermia.

The team stayed with the woman overnight in Powell Hut and would attempt to walk out on Monday morning if conditions permitted.

Read the full story here.

The Tararua Range can be extremely inhospitable in bad conditions (File photo).

Caleb Smith/Supplied

The Tararua Range can be extremely inhospitable in bad conditions (File photo).

So how bad is the weather going to get?

MetService issued a strong wind warning for the capital and the Wairarapa, northwest gales severe at times and gusts reaching 130 kmh. Periods of rain, possibly heavy are forecast to ease by the evening.

A heavy rain warning is also in place for the Tararua district.

Last week power company crews were working to restore power to Wairarapa customers. At 4.30pm Friday there were are 2527 properties without power across the region.

In relation to the latest warning, MetService meteorologist Gerard Bellam said the strong wind gusts could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures.

Driving could be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles. The wind warning was in place for 3am Monday until 6pm when it would gradually die away. Ballam said 80-100 mm of rain was expected around the Tararua Ranges.

A strong wind warning is in place for Wellington and the Wairarapa region.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

A strong wind warning is in place for Wellington and the Wairarapa region.

Search and Rescue teams assist woman on Mt Holdsworth after battling strong winds

Search and Rescue (SAR) teams were called to assist a woman after she battled strong wind gusts while walking a popular track in the Tararua Range.

Police were called at 11.05am on Sunday after the woman walking the “Jumbo Circuit” at Mt Holdsworth began having some issues due to strong winds.

A SAR team was sent about 1pm to walk in and provide assistance to the woman. Police said the walker was “well-equipped” and the team had been in regular contact with her throughout the day.

A police spokesperson said the rescue team reached the woman at 5.40pm and assisted her to Powell Hut, where they spent the night. It is hoped they will leave the park on Monday morning.

A woman and Search and Rescue teams spent the night at Powell Hut after the woman struggled to walk through strong winds.

Supplied

A woman and Search and Rescue teams spent the night at Powell Hut after the woman struggled to walk through strong winds.

Feast or famine for Wellington businesses in level 2

It was a tale of feast or famine for Wellington businesses during the first weekend of Level 2.

The crowds returned in force for some retailers, particularly DIY stores, but trade was quieter for some inner-city bars.

Jose Ubiaga​, owner of central Wellington bars Dakota, Residence and The Establishment, said there was barely anyone in sight on Friday and Saturday night.

“I think a lot of people decided to not bother coming in,” he said.

His bars had been trading at around 30 per cent of normal revenues over the weekend. “We’re definitely losing money, and we’re going to lose quite a bit of money for the month of September.”

Businesses who had burnt through reserves in the lockdown last year would be on shaky ground, he said.

Chris Wilkinson, the managing director of First Retail Group, said retail across the city had a relatively strong weekend, with gardening and DIY stores leading the charge.

Shoppers flock to central Wellington in Level 2 on a fine Saturday.

Ross Giblin/Stuff

Shoppers flock to central Wellington in Level 2 on a fine Saturday.

The latest in Covid-19 news

There were 20 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the current outbreak to 922.

All of the cases are in Auckland. Eighteen people are now in hospitals with the virus, four in intensive care.

In Auckland 342 people have recovered from the virus, as have 10 in Wellington.

Of the cases, 12 are epidemiologically linked and eight unlinked, bringing the total unlinked community cases to 34.

An Auckland couple flouted the alert level 4 rules by crossing the border and flying to their holiday home in Wanaka, police said on Sunday.

The couple – a 26-year-old woman and 35-year-old man – crossed the alert level 4 border using essential worker exemptions. They then drove to Hamilton Airport, before flying to their holiday home in Wanaka, police said.

There were 20 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 922.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

There were 20 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 922.

Rabbit numbers are through the roof

It’s not going to be raining cats and dogs, but there’s certainly a change in the weather when it comes to the rabbit population.

If you think you’ve noticed more of them about than usual, you’re right. They’ve bounced back from calicivirus, and in some areas they’re in numbers not seen since records began.

And it’s not just in rural areas, or just the usual bunny-prone regions of Otago and Canterbury – it’s all over the place.

Hawke’s Bay, for example, is a region that is experiencing an unprecedented – and flourishing – rise in numbers

Rabbit numbers are measured by counting the number seen over one kilometre in a night.

A Greater Wellington Regional Council spokeswoman said the council stopped collecting data on rabbit numbers two years ago, but records showed an increase in the number of inquiries, from 258 in 2018/19 to 387 in 2019/20.

Rabbit populations have taken off across the country.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council

Rabbit populations have taken off across the country.

For art’s sake – we love it

New Zealand’s auction houses and dealer galleries are fielding an unprecedented spike in interest in and purchases of art as a result of the pandemic.

Ben Plumbly has a theory about New Zealand’s burgeoning art scene.

“People who are coming into the market are doing so because they’re stuck at home, staring at four walls and maybe wanting a refresh,” he says. “Potentially they have more available funds because they’re not travelling; other parts of their budget are spilling over into art. Once you start collecting, it’s contagious.”

The art director at Tāmaki Makaurau’s Art+Object auction house says it’s experiencing “phenomenal” sales, with an auction at the start of August fetching more than $3.4 million.

“There’s no question the market is particularly buoyant.”

Read the full story by Andre Chumko and Mina Kerr-Lazenby here.

'Keep it Real' by well known artist Banksy.

Supplied

‘Keep it Real’ by well known artist Banksy.



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