An Opunake firefighter says this morning's flooding is the worst he has seen in the town in 28 years of service.
Deputy chief Kevin Joyce says two creeks running through the centre of town burst their banks as a result of heavy rain overnight, resulting in about 20 homes flooding.
The Fire Service had been busy all morning evacuating people and animals from homes, he says.
All schools are closed in Opunake and no buses currently running.
Mr Joyce says the water levels have dropped now, but there is still surface flooding in the area.