Hawke's Bay residents had to hunker down yesterday as heavy rain and strong winds battered the region; cutting power, causing flooding and closing schools and roads.

Wind gusts of up to 75km/h were recorded in some parts, while rain dumps reached 200mm in the ranges.

MetService meteorologist John Law said Gisborne and Hawke's Bay bore the brunt of the rainfall yesterday.

"The whole North Island has been under this low pressure which has brought plenty of cloud and wet weather for many spots and it's been a pretty windy day for most places as well."


A heavy rain warning was in place for the region until midnight last night and a strong wind watch expired at 3pm yesterday.

The flooded Okawa stream. Photo / Duncan Brown
The flooded Okawa stream. Photo / Duncan Brown

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence emergency management group controller Ian Macdonald was yesterday urging people to avoid unnecessary travel, with the weather causing rivers to rise, surface flooding and slips.

Macdonald said more heavy rain is expected through to lunchtime tomorrow, so Civil Defence is closely monitoring the situation and council staff have been placed on standby to activate a co-ordination centre if necessary.

He said rivers were coping with the downpour. "The Wairoa River was approaching five-year levels, while the Mangaone River at Rissington Bridge, northwest of Napier, was just below 50-year levels, the same reached in the extreme flooding in March."

There were several road closures and instances of surface flooding throughout the district, with State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Ōpōtiki closed for a time.

SH5 between Napier and Taupo was also closed yesterday and the NZ Transport Agency advised the road would remain closed overnight because of multiple slips and surface flooding along the route.

NZTA journey manager Oliver Postings said crews were working hard to reopen the road, but challenging conditions and large amounts of slip material spread across the route are making for tough going.

Flooded rugby grounds at Elwood Park, Hastings. Photo / Duncan Brown
Flooded rugby grounds at Elwood Park, Hastings. Photo / Duncan Brown

"No official detour is available so any trip between Napier and Taupo would likely involve having to drive to Palmerston North and then back up. This will add hours on to your journey and given the deteriorating weather, NZTA is advising road users to delay any unnecessary travel," he said.

"The safety of road users is our top priority so if you can't delay travel, please be cautious and drive to the conditions."

Postings said the next official update would be 10am today, with all updates posted to NZTA's website and social media pages.

The Hastings District Council closed Taihape Rd from 5pm last night due to surface flooding, and will reassess the conditions at 9am today.

A further 12 roads in the Tutira and Kaweka areas were also closed because of slips and surface water.

The council urged drivers to take care in the face of widespread issues including minor surface flooding, slips and fallen trees.

"The combination of intense periods of rain and strong winds has impacted on a significant number of roads across the district, and while the majority of roads remain open, we are asking drivers to take extreme care due to variable road and driving conditions," said councillor Kevin Watkins.

The swollen Ngaruroro River. Photo / Duncan Brown
The swollen Ngaruroro River. Photo / Duncan Brown

In addition to effects on the roading network, the accumulated rainfall has flooded parks and reserves and several trees are down.

Law said the good news was that the region had now seen the worst of the weather.

Today MetService forecasts a few showers and northwest winds but it won't be "nearly as wet or windy".