New Zealand lashed by storms

South Island hit by heavy snow and winds, with record waves off coast.

A winter storm bearing powerful winds disrupted air traffic across New Zealand and cut power to thousands of homes, forced schools to close and generated record-sized waves.

The capital, Wellington, was blasted on Friday with winds of more than 80 miles an hour. The gusts disrupted bus, rail and road transportation, brought down trees and power lines and ripped tiles from suburban roofs. About 28,000 homes in Wellington lost power.

Ocean waves measuring almost 15 metres were recorded near Wellington by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research - the largest it had recorded near the capital since it began taking measurements in 1995.

The waves washed away parts of some coastal roads and seawalls. The storm also brought heavy snow to some parts of the South Island.

National carrier Air New Zealand canceled all Wellington flights at the height of the storm, and flights from Christchurch and Queenstown were also canceled or delayed. Forecasters expected conditions to improve over the weekend.