After a day of grey but unremarkable weather, Cyclone Hola arrived early yesterday evening, dumping 30 millimetres of rain on Tauranga in just six hours.

From 5pm to 8pm onwards heavy rain totalling 22.2mm made driving hazardous as road surfaces flooded and potholes began appearing in roads, including Takitumu Drive.

MetService forecaster Karl Loots said most of the rain (20mm) fell in the two hours from 6pm and 8pm, and the heavy rain warning was still in place for the Bay of Plenty for the next four to five hours.

The total amount of rain for the day up to 1am was predicted to be about 60mm and wind gusts of up to 100km/h were also expected in coastal eastern ranges.

Advertisement

But the rain should ease and strong winds die down by dawn on Tuesday, he said.

Not deterred were the Bay's surfing community. It was bucketing down about 6pm but the carparks nearest the surf beach beside Mouturiki (Leisure Island) were full.

Surfers Bayden Ah Sam-Thomson, of Poike, Shane Bograil (also known as Shane Kraus), of Piha, and Reuben Mottart, of Gisborne, all 18-year-old marine biology students in Tauranga, were among them.

They said they spent about an hour-and-a-half surfing Hola and counted 72 other boardriders in the waves.

They could not see everyone and estimated there were at least 80 surfers out.

A full set at Mount Main Beach on Monday night. Photo / Mark Robson, Make Your Mark Photography
A full set at Mount Main Beach on Monday night. Photo / Mark Robson, Make Your Mark Photography

Bograil reckoned the whole East Coast would be similarly packed as it was during most cyclones.

He'd surfed cyclones Gita and Fehi as well as others and said by comparison Hola was "not bad".

"It was alright, pretty mellow actually I thought it would be a bit heavier. I don't think the grunt of it has really hit us yet. There was some good-sized sets but nothing too much."

At one point yesterday evening there were at least 80 surfers at Mount Main Beach. Photo / Mark Robson, Make Your Mark Photography
At one point yesterday evening there were at least 80 surfers at Mount Main Beach. Photo / Mark Robson, Make Your Mark Photography

Jenny and Damian Coffey were evacuated from their Bella Vista home in The Lakes on Friday ahead of Cyclone Hola because of fears of retaining wall failures.

Jenny said they were struggling in their motel with limited cooking facilities but friends were helping them a lot.

"We may know more tomorrow when the weather settles, then the council will call a meeting to let us know what is happening."

She said the council was looking after them well.

"Accommodation is hard to come by at the moment due to events in the city. They are trying to move us to a more suitable place for longer-term stays. The community support of us all is overwhelming and very appreciated.

"We are tired and hoping for a great outcome and just want to go home."

About 8pm last night firefighters in Mount Maunganui, Tauranga, Greerton, Katikati and Maketu had no weather-related call-outs to report.

Tauranga City Council emergency management and safety manager Paul Baunton said the council was keeping a close eye on the situation.

"The current weather forecast and conditions aren't usually associated with significant impacts to our city such as slips, although there may be possible damage to trees in exposed places," he said.