Weather: More bad weather on way for areas hit hardest by Cyclone Gabrielle, orange rain warning in place

After a wet night for much of the upper North Island, more bad weather is on the way for some of the areas hit hardest by Cyclone Gabrielle. 

A heavy orange rain warning is in place for Hawke's Bay until midday Saturday with a further 70 to 120 mm of rain expected in the ranges and ranges north of Hastings, including Esk Valley. Elsewhere a further 30 to 60 mm of rain is expected. 

Several heavy rain and thunderstorm watches are also in place across the North Island. 

It comes after the Coromandel, Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and Auckland were all battered by heavy rain on Friday night - just a week after Cyclone Gabrielle slammed into the country causing widespread flooding, damage and destruction. 

What you need to know:

  • Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay are under an orange heavy rain warning until Saturday morning

  • Hawke's Bay Emergency Management have ordered precautionary evacuations in Esk Valley

  • Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty have been issued a severe thunderstorm watch

  • Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Waikato north of Hamilton, Bay of Plenty west of Te Puke, Taihape, Wairarapa and eastern Marlborough are under heavy rain watches

  • Police say the number of uncontactable people following Cyclone Gabrielle is now at 23

Civil Defence's advice:

  • Heavy rain could cause further flooding, landslides, and damage to roads in regions impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle

  • Put safety first. Act quickly if you see rising water do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater

  • Have grab bags ready with: medications, snacks, water, torches, pet food, and baby formula (if needed) in case you need to evacuate

  • Plan where you will go if you have to evacuate

  • Ensure that you have enough food, water, and other essential supplies to last for several days

  • Wear protective clothing when cleaning flood water and mud including: mask, goggles, gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and gumboots or work shoes

  • Stay up to date with the latest information from MetService and your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group

These live updates are now over.

5:40pm - MetService says the main rainband is now affecting the southern North Island.

"It leaves showery conditions in its wake further north, some of which could be heavy," it tweeted.

"Heavy rain and severe thunderstorm watches remain in place down the east coast of the North Island."

5pm - Sunday's weather looks good - however a sub-tropical low sinks down from the north on Monday.

This will pass to the east of the North Island, but will flick more rain - and heavy rain - back over the areas that need it the least.

Large rainfall totals are likely again for Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, the Coromandel Peninsula and parts of Bay Of Plenty. There are also thunderstorms in the forecast for Auckland on Monday too.

A MetService graphic shows the forecast rain below:

Weather: More bad weather on way for areas hit hardest by Cyclone Gabrielle, orange rain warning in place

4:30pm - Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has posted a message to his Twitter account after heavy rain and flooding struck the region last night.

"I am relieved that we weathered another storm with no serious harm to Aucklanders," he wrote.

"Thank you to those who followed the guidance of emergency services by sheltering at home or evacuating to a safer place last night."

3:25pm - Wairoa District Council has posted a video from Mayor Craig Little on his farm, showing the impact of the heavy rain.

"You can just see how high the river is," he said. "This is really scaring me, this is not quite normal."

3:05pm - A Waihi Beach bach owner says the formation of the tornado which ripped roofs off houses and cut power to nearly 1500 properties was one of the most amazing things he's ever seen.

"I could just see debris and there was just all sorts going on in the sky, and there was just almost like an explosion of debris up in the air. There was just corrugated iron and objects and birds," Mark Wright told RNZ.

Read the full story here.

2:30pm - MetService says a low to the northeast of the North Island is expected to bring more rain to exposed areas on Monday.

"The areas likely to get the heaviest rain are Gisborne and the Coromandel Peninsula and there is a moderate confidence in rainfall accumulations reaching warning amounts there. There is a low confidence in warning amounts of rain for Hawke's Bay, Bay of Plenty and Auckland," it says on its site.

"The low is expected to drift away to the east on Tuesday but there is then a low confidence in rainfall amounts reaching warning criteria in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay."

2:20pm- Tairāwhiti Civil Defence has provided an update from Chorus on its network after some internet outages on the east coast.

  • The fibre cable between Ruatoria and Waipiro Bay has been cut as a result of a weather-related washout
  • Additional technicians have driven around the coast from Opotiki. Further technicians and restoration gear are on route via helicopter from Gisborne
  • Repair will commence shortly. They expect repairs to be made today, however the weather remains an issue as is flooding in the area
  • Chorus is proactively addressing an issue in Nuhaka where trees have fallen across an aerial section of the Gisborne to Wairoa core fibre, at this stage the fibre cable is intact - no damage
  • Regarding the fibre route Wairoa to Napier, Chorus continues to work with 2degrees and Transpower on fault issues that they have experienced since the route was stood up several days ago

2pm - Auckland Transport says there has been damage across the roading network after the heavy overnight rain.

Currently, 40 roads across Auckland have full closures in place. While some of these closures are expected to only last for the next few days, others will take months to repair. There are also five roads where one lane is closed.

  • Mangawhai – all routes from north into Mangawhai are closed
  • Work is progressing to assist Northland teams in opening detours and other routes due to closure of SH1
  • Tunnel Road is closed again
  • Woodcox Hill – slip has closed road, team working to remove this morning
  • Mill Flat Bridge – flood levels were the same as 27 January, however the temporary bridge is one metre higher so no recorded damage. Rapid damage assessment being undertaken today on the abutments and under the bridge

Contractors are attempting to reopen these roads where possible. If the damage is significant, they will be assessed, and a plan put in place to reopen them.

The AT website is being updated with latest information on open roads. The link for that page is

1:30pm - MetService is closing monitoring a tropical low north of Fiji which could develop into a tropical cyclone next week.

"It is too early to say whether it will affect New Zealand after it leaves the tropics," MetService said in a tweet.


12:21pm - Northern HB/Gisborne roading update

Flooding has closed SH38 between Lake Waikaremoana and Wairoa and SH2 between Ōpōtiki and Ormond.

An earlier closure of SH35 between Gisborne and Tolaga Bay has now been lifted and that road is open, however a slip has closed a stretch of SH35 further north near the intersection with Hiruharama Road near Ruatoria.

State Highway update as at 12pm

SH35 from Te Puia Springs to Tolaga Bay CLOSED

SH35 at Ruatoria, near intersection with Hiruharama Road CLOSED

SH2 between Ōpōtiki and Ormond CLOSED

SH2 between Gisborne south to Wairoa OPEN

SH2 between Wairoa and the Eskdale turn off CLOSED

SH38 between Lake Waikaremoana to Wairoa CLOSED

"The heavy rain has left silt and surface flooding across our Gisborne region on our roads and we're really urging all road users to avoid all unnecessary travel," says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's National Journey Manager Helen Harris.

"Roading crews are out doing what they can and as they continue to assess the roads they're finding more and more silt, so please if you are out driving on any roads currently open, drive to the conditions, and expect the unexpected – the possibility of fallen trees, debris, more slips."

Please note this information can change rapidly – ensure you check the latest weather conditions with MetService, and consult the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner for the most up to date information on road closures.

For those who are unable to access the internet at this stage, please keep tuned to local radio for the latest Civil Defence advice.

Journey Planner is updated 24/7 by Waka Kotahi traffic operations centres and is the best source of the most recent and reliable information available on state highway closures and disruptions. Remember to refresh the page when checking the status of highways to ensure that the latest updates are displayed.

12:20pm - An abandoned car has been caught up in flood water on SH25 near Kumeu. 

Weather: More bad weather on way for areas hit hardest by Cyclone Gabrielle, orange rain warning in place
Photo credit: Newshub

12:06pm - Stuart Nash says the Government won't be bound by the recommendations from the ministerial inquiry into forestry slash. 

Read the full story here

11:35am - Photos from Waihi Beach show a house with its roof completely ripped off.

A house in Waihi Beach has its roof completely ripped off.
A house in Waihi Beach has its roof completely ripped off. Photo credit: Scott Hetherington
A house in Waihi Beach has its roof completely ripped off.
A house in Waihi Beach has its roof completely ripped off. Photo credit: Scott Hetherington

11:04am - Fire and Emergency New Zealand says it's been called out to 127 weather-related incidents in Northland and Auckland in the past 24 hours. 

Thirty-nine were in Northland and 88 were in Auckland. The majority of calls occurred between 2pm and 9pm yesterday.

Sale Rock in Mangawhai is one of the worst affected areas. 

10:44am - Hawke's Bay Civil Defence has provided an update. 

9:45am - Video footage from Waihi shows the tornado swirling along the beach. Click here to watch the video. 

9:21am - People are being urged to avoid Seaforth Road in Waihi Beach while emergency services respond to the wild weather hitting the area. 

Powerlines have been brought down and parts of the road are blocked. It comes after reports a tornado hit the area. 

9:20am - There are now only 13 people who are unaccounted for after Cyclone Gabrielle, according to a police statement released on Saturday. 

Read the full statement below:

As at 9pm last night, the number of uncontactable people following Cyclone Gabrielle is now at 13.

Getting in touch with those remaining 13 remains a priority for Police and we are working as fast as we can, using a number of different methods.

In the 24 hours to 7pm last night, Police in Eastern District have conducted 523 prevention activities, including reassurance patrols and proactive engagements with storm-hit communities.

Over the same period, Police have received 451 calls for service, including 5 reports of burglaries, 3 unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and 29 family harm incidents.

24 people have been arrested for a variety of offences – 15 in Hawke’s Bay and 9 in Tairawhiti.

Offences include:

• trespass

• theft

• burglary

• car theft

• intimidation and threats

Police staff assisted with the evacuation of residents of Esk Valley on Friday afternoon and early evening, due to the potential for the river to rise following heavy rain.

Cordons are in place to keep Esk Valley safe.

Rising river levels continue to be of concern in the Eastern District and residents are encouraged to check the usual Civil Defence channels (including CDEM Facebook, CDEM website) for further information.

Elsewhere, Police have been monitoring and responding to weather-related incidents in Northland District and Tamaki Makaurau.

Residents are encouraged to check the usual Civil Defence channels (including CDEM Facebook, CDEM website) for further information.

8:41am - Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Area: Hauraki, Western Bay of Plenty

Forecast: At 08:00 am, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near WAIHI, WAIHI BEACH and KATIKATI.

These severe thunderstorms are moving towards the southsoutheast, and are expected to lie near KATIKATI at 08:30 am and near KATIKATI at 09:00 am.

These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by torrential rain.

Torrential rain can cause surface and/or flash flooding about streams, gullies and urban areas, and make driving conditions extremely hazardous.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in force for BAY OF PLENTY and HAWKES BAY.

The National Emergency Management Agency advises that as storms approach you should:

- Take shelter, preferably indoors away from windows;

- Avoid sheltering under trees, if outside;

- Get back to land, if outdoors on the water;

- Move cars under cover or away from trees;

- Secure any loose objects around your property;

- Check that drains and gutters are clear;

- Be ready to slow down or stop, if driving.

During and after the storm, you should also:

- Beware of fallen trees and power lines;

- Avoid streams and drains as you may be swept away in flash flooding.

8:03am - Hawke's Bay is forecast to be battered by heavy rain today. 

7:29am - Hawke's Bay Emergency Management said officials are carrying out a full assessment this morning and hope evacuated Esk Valley residents will be able to return to their homes today. 

Read the full statement below: 

After a full assessment this morning, we will let you know as soon as a decision has been made on when it is safe to lift the cordons for Esk Valley so residents can return to the area. Until the evacuation order has been lifted, please don't attempt to re-enter. Police are supporting staff at the cordons.

We've had rain on the ranges overnight, with lesser amounts being recorded on the Heretaunga Plains. The amounts recorded are lower than what was originally forecasted.

MetService New Zealand are forecasting additional rainfall this morning, continuing into the early afternoon, as well as the possibility of thunderstorms bringing localised heavy downpours which can cause surface flooding and slips.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council Hydrologists continue to monitor rainfall and the recorded and modelled river levels and are providing guidance on what this may mean for communities.

The Eskdale River rose around 1.5 m from where it was at 8 p.m. last night, and their advice is that this should start to recede soon.

Around the region, driving conditions may be hazardous, and people should minimise travel where possible.

Prepare yourself and your household in case you need to evacuate.

Civil Defence Centres will be open where needed for those who have been displaced.