They were laughing all the way to the saleyards as rain fell through much of Hawke's Bay yesterday.

Falls of more than 40mm were reported in many areas throughout the region but, apart from slips and some surface flooding, there were reported to be few difficulties for emergency services.

Federated Farmers provincial president Will Foley said a new kick in the step of the area's farmers was evident with a strong turnout of Hawke's Bay buyers at yesterday's Feilding stock sale.

It was in contrast to sales last month when few were prepared to cross the divide in search of stock, as one of the driest January to June periods on record raised fears of drought later in the year.


Mr Foley said one truck driver had told him he returned from one recent sale at Feilding without any stock for Hawke's Bay.

The rainfall matched the forecast and was a handy follow-up to rain a fortnight ago, the first significant rain in Hawke's Bay since the end of January.

Rivers in the Napier-Hastings area appeared barely affected, but there was surface flooding about the area - not enough to seriously trouble weekend sports fixtures, although junior soccer today was cancelled.

Council staff and contractors in the cities were out early clearing autumn leaves from gutters and drains to help prevent flooding and keep stormwater systems operating.

A slip caused some debris to fall onto Breakwater Rd near Napier Port last night but the highways network remained open throughout the day and evening, by which time rain had eased in most areas.

More rain was being forecast for today but was expected to ease to cloudy tomorrow and a fine sunny day on Monday - a relief for those in the first week of the school holidays.