Waitotara River north of Whanganui rising rapidly

Heavy rain will set in across the Whanganui region on Tuesday evening, and authorities are keeping an eye on the Waitotara river.

In 2015 the small town of Waitotara was flooded after the river rose to 15 metres.

Residents Newshub spoke to are worried their homes could be inundated again and some are moving furniture off the ground.

Farmers are moving their stock to higher ground and some paddocks in the Uruti Valley are flooded.

Waitotora Valley Road, which runs along the river, has been closed and Ngamatapouri school about 50km from Waitotara has been evacuated.

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop told Newshub the river is lower than initially thought. It's about 11-12 metres this afternoon.

He says the river is unlikely to rise above 2015 levels, when serious flooding took place, but authorities are keeping a close eye on it. A decision on whether to evacuate the town will be made before nightfall, however Mr Dunlop says that's unlikely.

Civil Defence has been activated in Taranaki. Heavy rain is expected over the region from 10:00pm and will continue through to late Wednesday morning.

Strong winds are also expected, and thunderstorms are possible.

Heavy rainfall expected across the Taranaki region:

  • 250-300mm expected over Mt Taranaki from 9am today until 9pm tomorrow
  • 100-150mm expected elsewhere in the region over the same period
  • 20-35mm per hour during heavy periods