A school principal stood in pouring rain diverting traffic after the worst flooding in years turned a New Plymouth street into a river.
Gales are pummelling the top half of the North Island and parts of Taranaki are underwater and at least one intermediate school is closed after a night of wild weather saw people rescued from cars trapped by rising floodwaters.
Heavy rain last night drenched the Far North with roads cut off by flash flooding, stranding trapped motorists.
Strong winds are blasting the centre of the island and warnings have been issued for those using the main highway across the central plateau.
Heavy overnight rain has also left parts of Taranaki under water with rivers and streams threatening to breach banks and motorists forced to navigate deep pools on roads.
St Joseph's Catholic principal Mike Dowd was called to his New Plymouth school early this morning by a neighbour who warned him heavy overnight rain had left Calvert Rd impassable.
"I got a call from a neighbour to tell me it was the worst it had been in a long time," he said.
"When I went around the corner the water and river was the across the road."
Dowd and another staff member promptly took up traffic duty on either side of the street diverting vehicles - including parents dropping off children at the school - away from the flooding until police arrived.
The school's low-lying field was also underwater but classrooms were unaffected by the flooding and pupils were now arriving late to school as floodwaters receded.
However neighbouring Devon Intermediate did not fare so well with sewage-contaminated floodwaters forcing the school to close its doors for the day.
Elsewhere floodwaters had affected residential properties with water spilling through garages.
MetService said about 30mm of rain had fallen in the district over three hours. The rain has started to ease but rivers and streams running through New Plymouth and Inglewood were expected to continue rising from mountain run-off. Taranaki Civil Defence also warned people to watch for localised flooding driving throughout the district this morning.
This morning pupils at a New Plymouth school were allowed to come late to class after a main road was submerged by floodwaters.
The front entrance and sports field of St Joseph's Catholic School was inundated by deep floodwater, making it difficult for children to be dropped off by parents.
While emergency services were quiet across Auckland, drama unfolded earlier in the evening in the Far North when vehicles became trapped on a bridge near Kaitaia.
Many low-lying roads across Whangape were left flooded and emergency crews had to wade hundreds of metres to reach three cars about 1km from the Herekino pub on Whangape Rd.
Police and fire crews from Ahipara and Kaitaia were called at 9.22pm but took at least 30 minutes to arrive at the bridge. A fire service spokesman said those inside the car were rescued from the rising waters and were safe and well.
The cars had been left abandoned on the bridge.
A severe wind warning remains in force for Auckland and Northland, with possible gusts up to 120km/h as the wild weather tracks south this morning.
Much of the upper half of the North Island is under a strong wind watch with gales expected to lash the country until the middle of the morning.
The same regions remain under a heavy rain watch with the possibility of thunderstorms rumbling across the island.
MetService said severe gale northeasterlies were expected to ease in Northland by early this morning while Auckland could expect the gusts to last until dawn.