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Areas of Auckland and beyond were yesterday inundated by floodwaters. Here is what happened in some of the worst affected areas.
A flash flood closed Portland Rd, Remuera for nearly two hours yesterday morning and residents said at least six cars in the street were immersed above their floorboards.
Auckland Council stormwater manager Grant Ockleston said the road flooded to 1m deep at its highest.
Residents at the Shore Rd end of the street, Jenny Vickers and Paul Steffensen, said the flood covered the whole width of the road for 300m.
It peaked at about 11am and receded quickly and had disappeared by the afternoon.
Three occupants of a home in Belmont Tce had a narrow escape when a gust blew a 60-year-old pin oak tree on to a car and their veranda, just missing the houses.
Resident Brian Watt said the tree on his front lawn fell over the roof of his hatchback car, a boundary fence and then his neighbour's fence and caught on the power lines before crashing by the front door.
One waterfront retailer had 25,000 litres of water pumped from its basement after being inundated by a high tide and heavy rainfall.
King of Cards in Queen's Arcade, on Customs St, was the worst hit commercial premises of those flooded in the lower central business district by a high tide and heavy rainfall.
The store's owner said he arrived at 9.15am to find his enormous basement ankle-deep in water. Quick work by the fire service and store employees prevented any serious damage to his stock.
Queen's Arcade building manager Michael Urquhart said the flooding was a reminder that the lower CBD was built on reclaimed land, and was still susceptible to the tide.
"It seems the city's drainage just cannot cope with the amount of water. It has has nowhere to go when we have that coincidence of tide and rain," he said.
Quay St was temporarily closed for surface flooding, and in surrounding buildings the fire service were "fighting the tide with pumps".
Auckland Outdoor Boating Club commodore Bruce Duncan said the combination of high tide and the large volume of water washing across Tamaki Drive pushed waters into the marina and nearly reached floor level of the clubhouse.
Mr Duncan said the marina fuel tanks would be checked to ensure they were not contaminated by sea water entering through ventilators.
Resident Faye Hayman said the water rose quickly when the tide came in. "Everyone handled the flood differently ... It was quite amazing really. So some people were playing and enjoying it. It was really interesting."
Police closed Tamaki Drive and diverted traffic down Ngapipi Rd and Ms Hayman said firefighters were warning people to be careful because some of the power boxes were smoking.
"It was pretty wild. There was quite a bit of wind so it was driving the waves really high ... Some of them were crashing right over cars."
At least six million-dollar properties at Bucklands Beach were damaged after a king tide broke over the seawall and flooded the street.
When drains blocked on The Parade, the water rose above knee-deep on the road and seeped into garages, basements and homes.
Resident Samantha Boston said that when the water crept towards the houses, power boxes were engulfed, one of them exploding into flames.
"The power was cut, and with sparks and smoke everywhere, firefighters were yelling at people to get out of the water - people were swimming and rowing dinghies where the road usually is."
Parts of the seawall were completely submerged at 10.30am, before the tide retreated again at midday.
GULF AND HARBOUR
The Auckland Coastguard had a hectic morning dealing with two calls from boaties out in the choppy 2m high swells whipped up by east-north-easterly winds gusting to 50 knots.
At 9.42am a 6m yacht with three people on board had rudder failure while surfing the chop in the Motuihe Channel. A Coastguard vessel found the skipper was managing to control the vessel with the outboard motor.
About noon a 12m yacht off Rangitoto Island reported a steering failure and was towed into sheltered anchorage at Islington Bay by a Coastguard vessel, to make repairs.
Duty officer Mark Fletcher said most yachties had taken heed of warnings given over the previous two days and had made home port before the storm.
Auckland Harbour Master's Office duty officer Mick Courtnell said 10 vessels were reported to be in strife on the eastern coast of the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour.
"We had a number of boats broken off their moorings of which all but two came ashore."
Residents of Herald Island, near Whenuapai, were last night bracing themselves for more flooding at the 11.30pm high tide.
Around 30 homes were hit earlier in the day and by late afternoon most had been protected with sandbags - although there was no telling if it would keep the water out.
One family home was already beyond help after the morning floodwaters swept through the entire house, leaving extensive damage. Bernie Harfleet said the flood waters crept up a neighbouring boatramp carpark before coming sideways through his daughter's home.
Further along the road the tidal floodwaters swamped yards, in many cases drowning gardens, pumphouses and entering lower lying parts of beachfront homes.
Children floated kayaks down flooded streets yesterday in what residents of the eastern Bay of Plenty town called its worst flood in at least 25 years.
And even as children swapped kayaks for bicycles to splash through the town's receding puddles, residents prepared for the situation to deteriorate again.
"It's supposed to get worse," said Wendy Cobden from Edgecumbe's volunteer fire brigade, which hardly had time to pause all day. Emergency services attended flooded garages and felled trees, put sandbags at critical locations and closed many streets to traffic.
The rain had swamped the whole town, she said.
Long-time resident Corrie Oppenhuis said it was the worst flooding he had seen in his 25 years in the town. He could only keep his fingers crossed as flood waters lapped up his driveway, and he cursed the 4WDs that caused waves.
Community board member Graeme Bourke said some streets were 1m-deep in water and sewage had come up.
The community was chipping in, going out sandbagging wherever they could, he said. Many residents blamed the flooding on a deficient drainage system. Yesterday was the worst they had experienced, but heavy rain frequently caused surface flooding, they said. An earthquake in 1987 had broken pipes, and they had never been properly fixed, they said.
CYCLONES DICTATE BLUSTERY, UNSETTLED CONDITIONS
Forecasters warn further unsettled summer weather is likely as New Zealand faces the peak of the cyclone season.
Auckland's stormy weather will give way to blue skies tomorrow.
But by the end of the week deluges could return if tropical cyclone Wilma continues its course for the upper North Island. It is at present sitting above Tonga.
Tropical cyclones Vania and Zelia, which burned out in the Pacific last week, marked the beginning of a wetter, less settled period of summer weather.
Last week's sudden shift from hot, dry conditions to monsoon-like rain is a hallmark of the La Nina weather cycle, which brings warmer temperatures and rain to the North Island.
La Nina's warming of the Pacific Ocean, which was responsible for flooding in Australia and Southeast Asia, is a breeding ground for tropical cyclones.
The cyclone season begins in November and peaks in late January to early February.
Subtropical lows are also common during this period. It was this weather pattern which "lifted" the sea to an unusual height, causing much of the unnaturally high tides yesterday.
Weatherwatch's Philip Duncan says that the centre of a large low pulls the sea upwards "like a large-scale vacuum cleaner".
In Whitianga the tide was 300mm higher than usual. Parts of Auckland had tides 100mm higher than normal. The king tide combined with heavy rainfall and blustery northeasterlies caused the flooding in coastal areas.
MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said the worst of the rainfall was moving towards the Bay of Plenty overnight.
He predicted that Auckland would get a few showers and a period of southwest gales today, before clearing up on Tuesday.
- Isaac Davison
of rain fell on Auckland yesterday
winds expected in Coromandel300campers evacuated in Taupo
weather-related events attended by fire service in north
litres of water pumped from one basement on Quay St
million-dollar properties at Bucklands Beach inundated