Weather: Tauranga father and his family dodge death after their two-storey home levelled by landslide

A Tauranga father is counting his blessings after his family of seven dodged death on Sunday morning.

The most affected residents from Maungatapu's landslide were able to return home briefly on Monday but questions remain on where to next. 

Wet weather has continued to plague regions further north too, with a mammoth clean-up on the cards. 

From the air, you can see the extent of the damage to Luke Hanan's house. The two-storey home was levelled by a massive slip.

He and his wife were asleep in bed and they searched desperately in the dark for their five children.

"We looked out the back window and thought, 'There's no way they're coming out of there'. Initial thought was they're dead," Hanan said.

Neighbours rushed to help.

"The house has gone, the house has gone, we could hear kids screaming," neighbour Paul Martin said.

Hanan said they tried going room to room to find their children.

"We managed to find and locate two of them pretty quickly, then we walked to what we thought was the hallway - that disappeared and ended up being part of a hill," he said. 

"So we basically just waded through mud, kids were climbing out of the window."

Luke Hanan's house.
Luke Hanan's house. Photo credit: Newshub.

Unbelievably, no one was seriously injured. Five homes were severely damaged and residents were able to return for a short time on Monday morning.

Some walked away with precious possessions, but others weren't so lucky.

"It's twisted into several pieces, and part of the house is on top of the neighbour's property, and then just covered in mud," Hanan said.

It's a bitter pill to swallow because he had just finished two years of renovations only hours before the slip hit.

"Unfortunately we just finished the last wall at 4 o'clock that afternoon, and yeah those couple years of work have definitely gone down the drain," Hanan said.

They still don't know if they'll be able to rebuild.

"Talking to a few people, they just don't know how unstable the bank still is," Hanan said.

"We don't really know what's happening with the section at this point in time. I'd say that might be the end of the section really."

The extreme deluge has been lashing other parts of the North Island too. Intense rain caused the Waihou River in Te Aroha to burst its banks early on Monday morning, spilling onto streets. And in the Coromandel, the summit of State Highway 25A - a major access road - has completely collapsed into the gully.

Coromandel Mayor Len Salt warns of treacherous driving in the region.

"We really need people to keep a close eye on that, don't travel unless it's absolutely necessary," he said.

There's more heavy rain forecast for much of the North Island for the rest of the week.

"We are very concerned, we're keeping a close eye on the next weather system," Salt said.

The North Island is still far from being in the clear.