Wet weather causes flash flooding in Gisborne, East Cape

Parts of Gisborne and East Cape have been inundated with areas of flash flooding as wild weather, which wreaked havoc in south Auckland on Saturday, moves down country.

Earlier on Sunday, a part of State Highway 35 between Tolaga Bay and Gisborne was completely underwater, and a number of roads in the area remain closed due to flooding.

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz​ said she was "happy to report" that river levels were now going down and a heavy rain warning in the area had been lifted. She also said SH35 north and south of Tokomaru Bay was now open after having been closed earlier today.

"We have had huge amounts of rain," she told Newshub, adding that some residents decided to self-evacuate from their homes during the wild weather.

MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said more than 100mm of rain had fallen in some parts of northern Gisborne over the past 12 hours. 

She said some places had recorded over 30mm of rain in one hour, which is "quite a downpour".

"That's quite a lot of rain to fall in such a short period of time."

Most of the rain fell when a front moving southwards down the North Island hit the area around 7-9am on Sunday morning, she said.

Earlier on Sunday, Tokomaru Bay local Gina Pewhairangi told Newshub the situation was "quite bad" though the rain had now subsided.

"[There's] a lot of floating vehicles gone out to sea, a few caravans - but no casualties so far," she said.

Stoltz​ said she had not heard any reports of vehicles floating away.

According to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, State Highway 35 at Potaka, near the intersection with Lottin Point Rd, remained closed due to a slip, and Stoltz said it would probably take a day or two to clear the slip.

She urged anyone who could put off their travel to do so.

"If you don't have to travel on State Highway 35 today please don't."

Gisborne District Councillor Bill Burdett said there was "quite a bit of damage" in Ruatoria.

"There's water everywhere," he said. "It's quite a mess.

"I can't tell you what it's like on the other side of Ruatoria but from all accounts it's pretty rough."

He said it was still too early for residents to begin thinking about cleaning up and urged them to "stay home, be safe and keep the family alongside [you]".

"Once this settles, and it looks like it's starting to settle, then we can see how much damage has been done."

The wet weather comes after a suspected tornado hit south Auckland yesterday damaging hundreds of homes and killing one person.