The owner of the Glentunnel Holiday Park frantically saved dozens of caravans in the heavy rain as the Selwyn River flooded the camp ground.
Manager and owner Nathan Langridge told the Herald it all happened very quickly.
He woke at 4am on Monday, checked the nearby Selwyn River and saw half a metre of water running over the banks and into the campground, near Darfield, west of Christchurch.
He went back to sleep but by the time he woke again at 8am, and water was running through the holiday park.
He said it had risen by about 2m in just four hours.
"We had to evacuate everyone. I got the four-wheel-drive out and started towing caravans to higher ground."
Langridge said he saved 12-15 caravans.
"There was about four we couldn't save including one of my own. There were some that water was already going through that we just couldn't get access to."
Those caravans are most likely to be written-off, he said.
The campground is now closed and Langridge said it will stay shut until the road can be repaired and the toilet block and the septic tanks are pumped out.
He said they were aware the rain was coming but did not expect to be hit as badly as they were.
"I suppose they had a red warning and it's lived up to what they said it was going to be."
Langridge said he thinks it was a very lucky escape for the owners of the caravans.
"I'd just bought a tow ball, a European thing for towing caravans and if I hadn't brought that a couple of weeks ago I wouldn't have been able to tow half the caravans out of there.
"So just luck on their behalf and for me getting the right thing to tow them out with."