One of the most widespread flash floods in several years hit Auckland city, parts of Coromandel Peninsula and Western Bay of Plenty on Tuesday, as subtropical downpours flooded roads and farms and caused commuter problems.
In Auckland, reports of flooding came in from Albany on the North Shore to Auckland Airport in the south. In lower Queen St and Fanshawe St, water reached door level on cars and some people had to abandon them.
WeatherWatch.co.nz predicted heavy rain, as did MetService, but the rain fell incredibly quickly and the front moved slowly. That simple combination caused flooding. Rainfall totals in many areas weren't hugely impressive but the rate at which rain fell was.
Despite a MetService severe thunderstorm warning issued for the city, only a few rumbles were heard. Most of the rain fell from giant clouds that prompted planes to be diverted from landing at Auckland Airport.
Flooding closed roads further south, too. "It is a mess down here at Waihi Beach," local Paula Vigus said. "The road has just opened at Katikati. There are lakes where paddocks were and the road from the beach to Waihi has parts under water.
Lots of rocks have washed over the road in one part."
Another local, Cathy Franzoi, was the first to alert us of the conditions: "Waihi Beach, 80mm of rain in the last 12 hours. We are flooding here and it's still raining. Any chance of it stopping soon?".
And as for Auckland, our reply was "yes". The rain was torrential but the second it passed, the sky cleared to a spectacular setting sun. Waihi experienced clear skies a few hours later. "Awesome, thanks guys," Cathy replied. "The moon is now reflecting off the new lake around my house."
The weather over the past week divided New Zealand into three sections. The northern third was mild, with a mixture of heavy rain and long sunny spells. The middle section was cloudier and drier but lacked the warmth. Then the lower third had stunning blue sky and severe frosts.
And if you tried to escape winter in New Zealand by heading to Queensland you would have been very disappointed. Facebook page Sunshine Coast Weather reported that Brisbane had a low of just 4C on Wednesday morning and inland areas fell to -5C.By Philip Duncan Email Philip