Weather: 'Significant rain event' hits New Zealand, warnings of escalation

There are warnings heavy rain on the West Coast could escalate to a red warning as rain batters the region for the next couple of days.

Over 250mm of rain was recorded in the ranges of the Westland District from 8am Tuesday until 8am Wednesday. MetService has forecast less intense rain on Wednesday followed by intensifying weather on Thursday extending to other regions.

MetService has issued several weather warnings and watches right across the country. The warnings and watches cover most of the South Island, the lower North Island and Northland.

West Coast Emergency Management said this is a "significant heavy rain event" and there is an increased likelihood of escalation to a red heavy rain warning.

"Rain is settling in throughout Westland tonight and there’s a bit of surface flooding around. Heavy rain will continue overnight, through until around lunchtime tomorrow (Wednesday) and then it’ll ease before some more heavy rain early Thursday morning," the emergency management group said.

"We are continuing to monitor throughout the night and expect river levels to go through alarms."

The article continues after Newshub's live updates.

Westland District Mayor Helen Lash said at the moment the district is "all good" but it's what's to come that has officials concerned.

"The fact that everything is now saturated - the rivers have already got a flow on them, there's runoff to come from the mountains ranges throughout Westland – so rain on top of this now is where we will have potential problems," Lash told AM.

Westland District Council is providing at least 500 sandbags for residents in areas of Hokitika identified as likely to be worst affected by surface flooding and cars causing bow waves.

Lash said officials are monitoring things very closely and for now, it is a "waiting game".