New Zealand's Far North has become a new island after being "effectively cut off" from the rest of the country because of road closures and severe flooding.

Northland and Whangārei were hit by a huge downpour overnight that forced people to flee flooded homes and led to multiple people getting trapped in cars in high water.

A large slip on Dundas Rd, Riverside. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A large slip on Dundas Rd, Riverside. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Whangārei District Council has also revealed the heavy rain has caused two breaks in sewer lines at Whareora Rd, affecting the Hatea River, and at the intersection of Porowini Ave and Maunu Rd.

Contractors are on their way to repair the breaks. Residents have been asked to avoid these areas as road closures will be needed while pumps are put in place.

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All residents should avoid swimming or shellfish collection in the Whangarei Harbour until further notice.

The council has also asked people to reduce water use while repairs are made to two of the three water treatment plants that service the district.

MetService said the unusual low-pressure systems that caused the downpours combined with the 220mm of rain that fell on Whangārei created a once-in-500-year event.

The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has warned New Zealanders to delay any travel in the North, especially those wanting to get home from school holidays.

"The Far North is effectively cut off by state highway closures and the local road network is also likely to be affected," NZTA's Northland system manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult said.

Moerewa and Kawakawa - drone footage of the flooding, communities continue to be cut off 😲 While it might look appealing...

Posted by NgatiHine FM on Friday, 17 July 2020

Road crews had been working through the night and were out again this morning checking roads and clearing slips and other hazards.

Metservice was forecasting more periods of rain today, possibly heavy.

"Thunderstorms are possible, with localised downpours, about and north of Whangārei," Hori-Hoult said.

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Motorists are urged to keep off the roads as the Far North is cut off. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Motorists are urged to keep off the roads as the Far North is cut off. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Motorists who needed to go out should take care to avoid surface flooding, slips, fallen trees and hidden potholes.

Other motorists should delay their journeys and check the Waka Kotahi travel information website for the latest updates on road closures.

Kerikeri River water levels have dropped since last night but are still high. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Kerikeri River water levels have dropped since last night but are still high. Photo / Peter de Graaf

"We also ask you to be kind and follow the instructions of the road crews to keep everybody safe," Hori-Hoult said.

"If they have closed the road it is for a very good reason and people should not try to drive through the closure point."

Queue on SH1 now stretches from bottom of Turntable Hill, Moerewa, to start of Pakaraka straights. Motorists bypassing queue on wrong side of road adding to chaos. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Queue on SH1 now stretches from bottom of Turntable Hill, Moerewa, to start of Pakaraka straights. Motorists bypassing queue on wrong side of road adding to chaos. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Northland road closures

• SH1 is closed between Victoria Valley Rd, Kaitaia and Kawakawa by slips and flooding in the Mangamuka Gorge and at Moerewa.
• SH11/SH10 is closed at Puketona Junction and SH11 is closed between Paihia and Kawakawa, with a slip near Opua.
• A slip has closed State Highway 1 (Western Hills Drive) in Whangārei between Selwyn Ave and Manse St.
• SH15 is closed by flooding at Titoki.
• South of Whangārei on SH1, there is flooding near the Loop Rd intersections. Stop/go traffic management is in place as the road has been reduced to one lane.