Wild weather wreaked havoc around the lower North Island yesterday.

While the upper half of the island basked in balmy summer conditions, the MetService issued severe weather warnings for Wellington, Wairarapa and the Hawke's Bay after some areas recorded up to 100mm of rain in 24 hours.

The rain set the scene for an early morning rescue at a campsite near the Oterei River at Te Awaiti Bay, about 50km southeast of Martinborough.

Eight adults and children were sleeping there when the river flooded.

About 4am, one of the children ran to a nearby property for help after the river flooded and trapped a wheelchair-bound man in his tent.

Gordon McNeill, manager at nearby Te Awaiti Station, said his neighbours Neil and Pam Davies raced to help.

"They were lucky no one drowned. They are very game camping there, it's an exposed spot."

About 2pm police were forced to close the Paekakariki Hill Rd north of Wellington after a slip. Police also closed the Desert Rd after conditions shut State Highway 1 between Waiouru and Rangipo Friday night.

MetService forecaster Gerard Barrow said rain was heaviest yesterday morning.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NZPA