A young Northland family fled their home moments before it was hit by a landslide unleashed by yesterday's torrential rain.
With much of the region already sodden the short-lived but intense rainstorm flooded roads and pushed rivers close to bursting — but the worst effects were felt at Te Ngaere Bay, about 40km north of Kerikeri.
There a slip estimated by firefighters at 50-60m high struck a house on Wainui Rd at the northern end of the beachside settlement.
With significant amounts of water still running down the slip face yesterday evening the area was cordoned off by emergency services so it was not possible to accurately gauge the damage.
However, a large quantity of soil and pine logs could be seen piled up against the side and rear of the two-storey house.
Te Ngaere resident Darryl Tilly, who lives next door, said the young father who lived in the house was digging a drain to remove what was then just surface water threatening to flood the bottom storey.
He heard a noise and looked up to see the hillside moving.
''Next thing, whoopsie-doozie, a slow avalanche of mud and trees came down. His wife was inside, I think he yelled out to her. She grabbed one kid under each arm and ran barefoot out the door like a rabbit.''
The Cavalli and Kāeo fire brigades responded to the emergency call about 3.40pm.
Cavalli fire chief Peter Cullen said the family managed to evacuate with two young children and a few personal items before the landslide hit.
The wall of soil and trees hit the back door where she had exited.
''They got out just before it blocked the door. They were very lucky,'' he said.
They stayed with family members last night.
The brigade made sure the power was disconnected and the house was secure, then taped it off to ensure no one went too close.
Another house at the top of the slip, which is rented out as a holiday home, was undamaged.
It would, however, have to be inspected by a council engineer to ensure it was safe, Cullen said.
That was expected to happen today.
The slip occurred on a steep slope where a number of pine trees had been felled in recent years.
The logs, which had been left where they fell, were dislodged — ''like dominoes'', according to one neighbour — by the slip.
No reports had been made of road closures in Northland by edition time yesterday though Kaeo River was close to overtopping its banks onto State Highway 10.
Further south stretches of SH10, between Bulls Gorge and Kerikeri roundabout and between Blue Gum Lane and Waimate North Rd, were flooded but still passable for traffic.
MetService forecaster Sonja Farmer said a rain watch issued earlier in the day was upgraded to a rain warning just before 4pm.
The heaviest rain was in the Wainui Rd area — where the slip occurred — with 79mm during the course of the day, peaking around 3pm.
Kerikeri had 71mm during the day with 41mm between 2 and 4pm.
Whangārei airport recorded 48mm with 25mm of that in one hour between 4 and 5pm.
Other high intensities were recorded in Dargaville (28mm) and Glenbervie (26mm).
The rain had been predicted though it was heavier than initially expected.
It was caused by a low pressure system slipping down the east coast, she said.
Rainfall of 20mm an hour will cause pooling and localised flooding, especially when the ground is already saturated.