Heavy rain warnings for northern and western parts of New Zealand

A large slip on Valley Road in Whakatāne following heavy rain on 3 May, 2023.

A large slip on Valley Road in Whakatāne.
Photo: RNZ / Ashleigh McCaull

Severe weather warnings are in place for many parts of the country, with MetService saying heavy rain is expected through until early next week.

Heavy rain warnings and watches remain in place for many western and northern areas, including Northland, western parts of Auckland and Waikato, Waitomo, Taranaki, Taumarunui, Taihape and northern Whanganui, Horowhenua to Wellington, parts of Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman, Westland and Fiordland.

Northern Taranaki is among the areas to have had the heaviest rainfall overnight, alongside Northland, Horowhenua to Wellington, and Westland.

MetService said the orange heavy rain warning in Taranaki could be upgraded in the coming days.

Meanwhile, heavy rain was possible in the Nelson-Marlborough region from around midnight tonight.

‘The ground is absolutely saturated’

Whakatāne has been hit with unrelenting heavy rain, slips and surface flooding since Monday.

The Whakatāne River reached its highest level since 2019 yesterday and several communities got isolated.

MetService has now lifted the heavy rain warning for the Bay of Plenty east of Te Kaha and Gisborne north of Tokomaru Bay but the wet weather of recent days has caused some small communities in the area to become cut off.

Te Uruwera councillor Andrew Iles told Morning Report he was hopeful the region had seen the worst of the current bout of wet weather.

“It’s moving off now to the west coast of both islands so it’s a matter now of getting our roading network up and running again today.”

He said the community of Waimana had been cut off for most of yesterday but a route in and out of the community via the Wainui Road to the town’s east was now open.

“State Highway 2 – the other side of the river – there’s a deadly hush over there, still no traffic movement, so I’m assuming that they’re still working on clearing not only the slips, but there was a lot of slash and what-have-you on the state highway network over there.”

Rūatoki was also isolated due to flooding yesterday and a boil-water notice was still in place for resident there, Iles said.

“The ground is absolutely saturated so slips are always a concern. Of course Whakatāne itself, with the escarpments is always susceptible to something like that happening.”

He said the priority now was to get the roading network up and running again, and he urged local residents to follow Whakatāne District Council’s Facebook page or to listen to the radio for the latest updates.

A house is seen perched at the edge of a large slip on Valley Road in Whakatāne following heavy rain on 3 May, 2023.

A house is seen perched at the edge of a large slip in Whakatāne after heavy rain hit the area.
Photo: RNZ / Ashleigh McCaull

Heavy rain to hit Taranaki, Wellington, Marlborough regions

Forecaster Allister Gorman said Cape Reinga had already recorded 120 millimetres, while rain gauges at the top of Mount Taranaki had 150 millimetres.

He said there had also been heavy rain in Porirua, Stratford and Marlborough and persistent rain was likely to continue in Taranaki, Marlborough and Kāpiti this morning.

“There is some quite heavy rain just north of the Marlborough Sounds at the moment – some of that will come Rai Valley, Marlborough and over to Tasman, and some will also likely track into the Kāpiti, Horowhenua and Wellington Region.”

MetService said up to 450mm of rain was expected around Mount Taranaki and Civil Defence warned people in areas prone to flooding to be ready to leave their homes if necessary.

Drivers should also be on alert for slips and flooding on the roads, it said.

Specialist teams on standby in Northland

Fire and Emergency said specialist teams were on standby in Northland as it prepared for any weather-related callouts.

It said it had received a single weather-related call out overnight, when powerlines sparked in Kerikeri.

MetService said the rain in Northland could ramp up later today and into Friday, and the region remains under an orange heavy rain warning.

Deputy National Commander Brendan Nally said two Urban Search and Rescue teams were on standby in Kaikohe.

He said there was still uncertainty around exactly where the rain would hit the hardest, but deployments to other locations would be considered as the situation evolved.

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