Holidaymakers are stranded with flights to and from Fiji cancelled or schedules changed as the island nation braces for a tropical cyclone due to hit today.
Travellers are being urged to check their flight schedules in New Zealand and Fiji as airlines make last minute changes because of Tropical Cyclone Sarai.
Aucklander Hannah Moloney is with a group of friends staying at a holiday home on the Coral Coast – about an hour-and-a-half from Nadi.
They were due to fly home at midday today, but are now stuck there until at least Sunday.
“We just got up and got ready and packed and went to head off to the airport and then we got the alert from Air New Zealand that the flights were cancelled.
“It hasn’t stopped raining since about 8 o’clock last night and it’s just literally rained non-stop and all the flights are now cancelled.
“They’re predicting that tomorrow’s flights will be cancelled as well and the worst of it is meant to hit tonight.”
She said electricity was out, but that they were lucky in that the place they were staying had a generator.
Fiji Airways announced that up to 54 domestic and international flights in and out of Fiji had been affected.
They include two Auckland-bound flights (FJ418 and FJ412) from Nadi that have had to be cancelled because of bad weather conditions.
Other flights from Nadi to Samoa, Los Angeles and Melbourne have all been brought forward – with the latter being advanced by six hours in a bid to avoid the worst of the cyclone.
Passengers heading to Fiji from Auckland early this morning were still able to board on flights scheduled around 5.30am.
However, some flights – a Fiji Airways and Qantas flight – have both been brought forward by 20 minutes. They are now both due to leave Auckland International Airport at 11.24am, instead of 11.40am.
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All other Nadi-bound flights from Auckland after 5.10pm today have been cancelled.
They include an Air New Zealand flight due to leave at 5.10pm as well as two other Fiji Airways and Qantas flights due to depart at 5.50am tomorrow.
TROPICAL CYCLONE SARAI EXPECTED TO BECOME CAT 2
Tropical Cyclone Sarai was upgraded to a category 1 event early today.
The latest update issued by MetService Fiji said winds of up to 70k/hr were expected close to its centre and it was expected to intensify into a category 2 system.
That would result in winds reaching up to 100km/h close to the eye. It is due to pass just southwest of Nadi at 1am tomorrow.
“As the system moves closer to Fiji, expect northerly winds to pick up and reach damaging gale force – approximately 65km/h with gusts to 90km/h over Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands,” MetService Fiji said.
People in Fiji are being told to expect rain to become frequent and heavy, with squally thunderstorms and flash flooding in low lying areas.
Those thinking about heading out to sea are being warned of “very rough” to high seas with damaging heavy northerly swells.