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Warnings of more gale force winds and heavy rain have been issued as a deep low moves east across the North Island this morning.

MetService forecaster Mark Pascoe predicted southwest winds rising to gale force late this morning about Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula and northern Waikato.

The winds could cause damage to loose structures, he said. The wind has already caused havoc on Waiheke Island where 1000 homes were this morning without power.

MetService has also issued a severe weather warning for Hawkes Bay, which is expected to be hit by a heavy burst of 20-30mm of rain between 11am and 4pm.

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All other heavy rain warnings have been lifted.

Between 100-300mm of rain fell in the space of 24 hours and the Fire Service was called to 184 weather-related incidents in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday.

Of those, 101 callouts were in the Auckland area.

The areas worst-affected by flooding were the lower central business district and eastern suburbs, Maraetai, Leigh, parts of State Highway 16, SH1, Tamaki Drive and Herald Island, where 30 homes were flooded.

Auckland suburbs

Herald Island residents were last night sandbagging to protect their properties from the 11.30pm king tide - when the centre of the low was due. But the waters had receded by this morning and a major cleanup was under way.

Several roads, including part of Tamaki Drive, were yesterday closed, with kayakers replacing cars.

City-bound lanes of Auckland's Northwestern Motorway were closed for four-and-a-half hours after the tide began lapping around cars. When it retreated, it clogged the motorway with debris. A south-bound section of motorway near the harbour bridge was also closed for an hour.

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The king tide stretched into the lower streets of downtown Auckland. Firefighters fought to clear commercial premises, which became waterlogged as rainfall compounded the tide.

Building manager Michael Urquhart said the flooding was "unprecedented" in the lower CBD, and had poured into basements on Quay St.

A flash flood swallowed some of Portland Rd in Remuera when stormwater reservoirs reached their limit.

Trees fell in nearby Belmont Terrace, one of them striking a parked vehicle.

In the harbour, boats were torn from moorings, with several beached and one 8.5m yacht smashed into splinters at Red Beach.

Ferries to Great Barrier Island were cancelled due to the torrid conditions.

Bucklands Beach residents watched the tide breach the seawall on The Parade, submerging the street and seeping into six low-lying homes.

Rivers and lakes

Waikato Civil Defence duty officer Greg Ryan yesterday said there was a risk of rivers flooding in Coromandel, Hauraki Plains and Taupo over the next three days.

About 300 people were evacuated from a Taupo campground yesterday morning. Flood advisory notices were issued warning those close to rivers and lakes to prepare for rising levels for another two days.

Lake Taupo increased 2cm in an hour yesterday and was continuing to rise.

Eastern Bay of Plenty rivers reached warning levels over the weekend but had now begun to recede, Bay of Plenty Regional Council community relations manager Bronwyn Campbell said.

Council staff had worked through the night monitoring pumps and sites prone to flooding, she said.

Several roads in the area remain closed today due to surface water and river flooding.

In Rotorua, there had been some minor wastewater overflows but sewer flows were under control and being closely monitored, Rotorua District Council utilities operations manager Eric Cawte said.

"There is the possibility of contamination of some of our waterways so as a safety and health precaution we are recommending people stay well away from swollen streams and rivers," he said.

"We certainly urge people in the meantime not to swim or take fish from our waterways, or from areas where streams and rivers enter the lakes."

Hazardous roads

There had also been surface flooding and minor slips, Mr Cawte said.

Drivers were being warned to take care in the hazardous conditions with slips, surface flooding and high winds blasting the North Island.

Police said that the Desert Road between Waiouru and Turangi and the Manawatu Gorge, near Palmerston North, were closed this morning.
The Waioeka Gorge between Gisborne and Opotiki was also closed due to slips.

Click here for road updates from the NZ Transport Agency.

Police said motorists should also take extra care on State Highway 2 between Napier and Wairoa, SH3 from Whanganui to Taranaki, SH4 from Wanganui to Raetihi and SH5 from Napier to Taupo due to minor slips and surface water on roads.

While the low is expected to leave by tomorrow, a new threat is approaching in the form of Tropical Cyclone Wilma. The cyclone is currently moving south in the Pacific, and could reach the North Island by Friday.

- NZPA and NZHERALD STAFF