Weather: Heavy rain from ex-cyclone Debbie batters New Zealand

Many parts of New Zealand have copped a battering overnight as ex-tropical cyclone Debbie brought torrential rain.

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What you need to know:

  • In Ngaruawahia, a police search has failed to find a man reported missing in Waikato River
  • In south Auckland, a massive outage caused 19,000 people to lose power. It was restored around 90 minutes later.
  • In Kaikoura, there are fears the city could get cut off, with the inland road threatening to flood and SH1 to the south closed by landslips.
  • A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Thames, Coromandel and the Hauraki Gulf
  • Floods and slips have closed highways across the North Island, including: SH56 at Opiki, SH3 from Awakino Tunnel to Tongaporutu, Wayby Valley Rd near Wellsford and SH25 north of Hikuai
  • Warnings about slips and floods and are also in place for several sections of highway in the Waikato, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Whanganui.
  • Whanganui floods: What you need to know

This live updates article has now ended.

8:48pm: The foul weather is hampering domestic flights around the country.

All flights at Wellington Airport have been suspended, with the airport saying the weather is affecting its systems.

In Auckland, an assortment of domestic flights in and out of the airport have been cancelled or delayed.

7:39pm: Whanganui River is expected to peak at 11.2m at around 3am tomorrow, at Pipiriki.

A 7.7m peak will follow at Town Bridge at 8am, Horizons Regional Council's Craig Grant says.

"Whanganui District Council's Emergency Coordination Centre will remain operational overnight as well," he said.

7:15pm: The worst has passed for most of Auckland and Auckland Civil Defence says it's now in clean-up mode.

"There are still some areas that we need to keep a close eye on as the region is still very saturated and some floodwaters will take time to subside," duty officer Dion Anderson said.

MetService says there could be one more burst of heavy rain out west before it fully subsides.

5:51pm: The deluge has been enough to activate Napier City Council's cross-country stormwater outfall, near Marine Parade.

The council shared a video of it "at full throttle".

It only activates in an extreme weather event, the council says - usually only about once a year.

5:42pm: It's going to be a long, wet night for 150 students trapped on a school trip in Port Waikato.

A large slip has blocked the road heading in and out, so the children will have to remain overnight.

They are safe and at no immediate risk, the Waikato District Council said.

5:37pm: Most of south Auckland has had its power restored, after an earlier outage affected around 19,000 people.

The affected areas were Manukau, Wiri and Papatoetoe.

5:31pm: The fire service has responded to 348 weather-related incidents across the country in the last 24 hours.

In total it's had 584 emergency 111 calls, a spokesperson said.

5:21pm: Motorists are urged to take extra care during their afternoon commute today, with more bursts of rain expected to batter a number of parts of the North Island.

In the Auckland region, more than 21 roads have been closed, while Thames Coast Rd in the Coromandel has been closed due to slips, and State Highway 30 between Rotorua and Edgecombe has been flooded out.

Auckland Civil Defence spokesperson Aaron Davis told Newshub the downpours haven't finished yet.

5:05pm: Auckland's Waitangi Falls has been turned into a raging torrent - but there is a bright side.

Glenbrook Primary School, which is near the waterfalls, is using it as a teaching opportunity, about the devastation flooding can cause.

flooding ex-cyclone debbie waitangi falls
(Glenbrook Primary School / Facebook)

4:47pm: The deluge has prompted a severe thunderstorm watch for the Coromandel.

Farmlands have been flooded and further north, there's also been torrential rain in Whitianga.

MetService says 191mm of rain has fallen there in the last 24 hours - about the same amount of rain they usually get in the entire month of April.

flood flooding ex cyclone debbie coromandel farm
(Newshub.)

4:40pm: Parts of Napier's wastewater network have been overloaded by the torrential rain, forcing a redirection of some of the storm water flow.

The public is advised not to swim or collect any shellfish in the Ahuriri Estuary as levels of bacteria and viruses are likely to be higher as a result.

All recreational water activities should be avoided until sampling shows levels are safe again.

4:22pm: Police haven't had any luck trying to find a man seen struggling in Waikato River, near Ngaruawahia.

A search was launched after a member of the public saw him in the water under a rail bridge.

But a search of the riverbank and neighbouring addresses, as well as a police boat which was deployed, have failed to find him.

Senior Sergeant Dean Anderson said the man may have managed to get out of the river after he was initially seen struggling.

"If this person made it out of the river, we ask that he make contact with Police so we know that he is safe."

Anyone who has seen anything is asked to contact police.

4:04pm: Ninteen thousand people are without power after a massive outage in south Auckland.

It's not yet known what caused the fault at Transpower's Wiri station, but contractors are on site and hope to have those affected back on the grid this evening.

Those in Manukau, Wiri and Papatoetoe are affected, a spokesperson told Newshub.

3:59pm: Fifty staff from the New Zealand Defence Force have now been sent to Whanganui and Rangitikei to help out, after another 25 were sent out this afternoon.

They'll be helping to evacuate residents, fill sandbags, check on residents in flooded areas and man cordons.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to provide additional assistance if required," Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said.

3:52pm: Kaikoura could get completely cut-off by the storm, with the inland road threatening to flood and State Highway 1 to the south closed by mudslides.

Mayor Winston Grey says the risk with that would be if there were to be an emergency and helicopters couldn't fly.

There's also concerned inland dams, created during last year's earthquake, could breach.

3:38pm: The torrential rain has swollen the Waitohi stream in Picton, turning it into a raging torrent.

Video sent to Newshub by Blenheim resident Stewart Ireland shows the force of the churning water, which at times crashes into and floods onto the bridge.

3:32pm: Rain has stopped falling in Whanganui, but the city is bracing for another hit tonight.

Moves are already underway to protect residents, with Māori wardens and police evacuating people from low-lying homes near the river.

A number of residents have already self-evacuated.

Ex-Cyclone Debbie flooding Whanganui River
(Bernard Muzengeza / supplied)

3:25pm: Hunters should take care in the heavy rain and flooding, Fish and Game has warned.

Game bird shooting season begins in a month but starting from Sunday, hunters are allowed to claim vacant hunting stands or maimai.

But with the remnants of Cyclone Debbie battering the country, people need to take care.

"We know people are keen to make sure they have a good spot for opening morning, but common sense must prevail," said Fish and Game's Don Rood.

3:13pm: People are advised not to swim at Okahu Bay, in Auckland, for the next few days after the flooding.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei says floodwaters from their cemetery are expected to clear to sea and asks people not to swim at the bay for the next three days.

2:57pm: A man has reportedly gone missing in the Waikato River near Ngaruawahia.

A police spokesperson told Newshub they received a report of a person disappearing in the swollen river just after 1pm. 

Search and Rescue teams and police are searching the river, and a search boat is being deployed.

2:50pm: A water main has burst in Wellington, according to the Wellington City Council.

Workers have been sent out to Taranaki St in order to fix it.

1:00pm: Heavy rain warnings are in place for most of the North Island, and the Kaikōura coast until Thursday morning.

This includes further rainfalls of up to 120mm in Waikato, up to 100mm in Coromandel, up to 150mm in the Bay of Plenty and up to 130mm along the Kaikōura coast.

Heavy rains could also hit Christchurch late on Thursday as Marlborough, Nelson, Westland and Canterbury are now under a severe weather watch.

The flooding has affected 12,500 students and 3400 pre-schoolers as 89 schools and 84 learning centres have closed across the North Island, the Ministry of Education says.

Flooding in the northwest of Hamilton has also stranded 150 children on a school camp in Port Waikato as all roads in-and-out of the town are blocked.

Flooding has also closed highways and local roads right across the country from Wellsford down to the Manawatu and Kaikoura coast in the South Island.

12:30pm: SH1 between Turangi and Taupō has been blocked by a landslip. NZTA says to follow directions of emergency services.

11:55am: The fire service is continuing to check on the slip that took some clifftop garden fences into the sea at Torbay.

Torbay slip
The cliff beneath Sharon Rd (Newshub.)

11:54am: The two people trapped in a flooded van have been rescued by firefighters and a local farmer with a tractor. 

11:45am: It's a "soggy doggy" sort of day in Clevedon, one local posted on Instagram: 

11:30am: Update on the flooded van in Otakiri, Bay of Plenty:

A local farmer got his tractor to try help remove the van from flood water.

11:00am: More heavy rain is on its way back to Auckland, MetService says.  

10:55am: The heavy rain hasn't hit Auckland's water supply, authorities say.

Downpours in the Hunua Ranges had WaterCare staff inspecting the catchment area around the ranges' storage dams. Reports so far indicate no major damage.

Auckland's water supply was affected during a deluge last month, taking weeks to return to normal.

On Wednesday, WaterCare said silt levels in water reaching the water plant had not increased and production remained stable.

10:50am: A van with two people stuck inside is in 1.5m of water in the Bay of Plenty. Water is entering van and emergency services are trying to get them out. The water is waist-deep, and the driver has managed to get the windows down. 

10:40am: Glenbrook School, south of Auckland, has shared video on Facebook showing the flooded Waitangi Falls. 

10:20am: Firefighters are sending up a drone to inspect the damage at the homes on Sharon Road near Browns Bay.

"Truckloads of soil have gone over the cliff along with some pretty major pohutukawa trees," RadioLIVE's John Budge says.

9:30am: For the latest on Auckland road closures, see the Auckland Transport Facebook page:

9:00am: The fire service says the landslip at Torbay has taken lower gardens and fences as the cliff collapsed, about 10m from the houses on three properties. 

Truckloads of soil have fallen into the sea. The Fire Service is about to launch a drone to inspect the damage but it is believed there are only four to five metres between the edge of the cliffs and the properties' swimming pools. 

The three homes worst affected have not been evacuated.

In Kohimarama, the apartment block struck by a landslide remains cordoned off as engineers head to the scene.

Resident Craig Jones told Newshub furniture and paintings had been pushed along "like a train going through" when the slip hit.

"I walked towards the front door and got blown open, and mud just basically piled through the unit and knocked me over," he said.

8:50am: Whanganui District Council says all roads and bridges are currently open in the area.

In the Waikato, one driver has been stopped by a slip on Waingaro Rd. 

8:40am: Auckland Civil Defence has tweeted a photo taken by its geotech specialist showing the back of a Kohimarama property where a cliff collapsed on Tuesday night.

Kohimarama property landslip
The property in Kohimarama hit by a cliff collapse (Auckland Civil Defence / Twitter)

8:25am: The fire service says it is attending to several properties on Sharon Rd in Auckland's North Shore which have suffered landslips - with fences collapsing toward the sea.

The road is full of multimillion dollar cliff-top properties with extensive views of the Hauraki Gulf.

A stretch of beach between Browns Bay and Waiake has been closed.

Sharon Rd Browns Bay
Sharon Rd in Browns Bay (Google Maps)
Maraetai Drive
FIrefighters pumping water from a Maraetai house (Fire Service)

7:30am: The latest: 

  • Central Auckland's power outage is still affecting about 700 homes
  • A section of New Lynn that flooded last month is closed again by flood waters, with the Great North Rd-Clark St intersection closed
  • Trains suspended between Pukekohe and Papakura due to landslip - replaced by buses
  • All Gulf Harbour ferry sailings have been replaced by bus
  • More than 60mm fell in seven hours in the region overnight and could hit 200 in some parts of the North Island by end of Wednesday
  • A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Thames, Coromandel and the Hauraki Gulf
  • Whanganui and Rangitikei have declared states of emergency ahead of possible serious flooding on Wednesday.
  • Evacuations may take place later in the day in Whanganui, with Civil Defence centres opened at Whanganui Girls College and St Paul's Church
  • Floods and slips have closed highways across the North Island, including: SH56 at Opiki, SH3 from Awakino Tunnel to Tongaporutu, Wayby Valley Road near Wellsford and SH25 north of Hikuai
  • Warnings about slips and floods and are also in place for several sections of highway in the Waikato, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Whanganui.

7:15am: One west Auckland resident has shared footage of flooding through Huapai.

7:00am: NIWA says Auckland got 72 percent of April's normal rainfall on Tuesday night. 

Flooded in March, Clevedon again felt the brunt of the weather as it recorded the highest rain total across the Auckland region with 99.8mm between 4pm and midnight Tuesday.

But the heaviest rains appear to have eased off, with the fire service reporting the majority of its Auckland calls came before midnight.

6:55am: Evacuations are still likely to take place in Whanganui, but later in the day.  A Civil Defence Emergency team is on standby. 

The Civil Defence Emergency Management team will attend a conference call with the Regional Controller for further updates at 8am. 

If people wish to evacuate themselves Civil Defence advises them to check in with a Civil Defence Centre.

6:45am: Power has been knocked out to around 2000 homes across Auckland.

  • Suburbs affected by the power outages are St Heliers, Orakei and Grey Lynn
  • Another 500 homes in east Auckland are also cut off
  • It is hoped power will be restored within the hour. Vector crews are currently checking damage to power lines

6:30am: Flood defence barriers are up at Whanganui Yacht Club, Kowhai Park and Balgownie due to high water levels in the Whanganui and Manawatu Rivers. Whangaehu and Turakina also remain on high alert, Horizons Regional Council says. 

"While this still remains a significant event, it is now predicted to be on a smaller scale than that of the 2015 flood event,” says Horizons controller Craig Grant.

"We now expect Whanganui River to peak at Pipiriki at 13.8m around 11pm this evening. This will result in an 8.5m peak at Town Bridge at 6:45am Thursday.

The two Civil Defence Welfare Centres at Whanganui Girls’ College and St Paul’s Church will be open from 6am, and schools in the district are closed.

6:00am: Fire service spokesman Daniel Nicholson says the majority of flooding damage overnight was in east Auckland

"A lot of water came down and it encroached into people's houses. We attended all those incidences and assisted them with removing water wherever we could, with whatever we could - portable pumps, brooms."

An apartment block was evacuated in the east Auckland suburb of Kohimarama after a hillside collapsed.

Everyone at the San Remo apartment block has been accounted for by urban search and rescue.

Newshub.

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