The heavy rain which caused flooding and forced some out of their homes in the Nelson region will spread to other areas today.

Severe weather warnings are in place for Manawatu, Wairarapa, Wellington, Taranaki, Taupo, Taihape, Taumarunui, Bay Of Plenty Rotorua, Northland, Gisborne, Auckland, and Wanganui, with heavy rain forecast today in those areas.

Four households were evacuated from Hope, near Richmond in the Nelson region, amid concerns over rising streams feeding off the Richmond Hill.

Several hundred millimetres of rain fell overnight in some parts of the Nelson Ranges, MetService said, but the heaviest rain in the area has passed.

Rain warnings for the north of the South Island have been lifted.
Civil Defence Nelson Tasman controller Alec Louverdis told Radio New Zealand four or five families were evacuated from their homes in the Hope and Brightwater areas.

Mr Louverdis said swollen rivers have peaked and levels are now stabilising.

No rivers had breached their flood banks, he said.

There had been "extensive surface flooding" but swollen rivers had peaked and levels were beginning to fall.

Richmond's Chief Fire Officer Ralph Lonsdale said they have set up a command unit at the Hope church and have opened up Richmond School for residents who have nowhere to go.

He said there is also flooding around State Highway 6 at the Brightwater Bridge and in the Waiau Valley.

The Wairoa River has swollen from 20 cubic metres per second to 1200 cubic metres.

The bridge on State Highway 6 at Brightwater, southwest of Richmond, has been closed.

Traffic has been diverted around Waimea Rd West.

Maitai Valley Road is impassable to all but four wheel drives, and the river there is rising.

The Buller River is also in flood, at Te Kuha, towards Greymouth, and there are slips at Takaka.

Fire Service spokesman Lance Johnston said four crews were out this morning checking on residents in the Richmond, Hope and Brightwater areas.

Senior Sergeant Stu Koefoed of Nelson police said no more evacuations were planned at this stage.

"We're keeping an eye on it, but the river is the concern at the moment and it's approaching peak now, from what the hydrologists have told us," he told NZPA.

"It's a matter of keeping an eye on those river flows and watching that, and hopefully we're on the other side of it now -- we've passed the worst of it."

Mr Koefoed said police did not want people out rubbernecking.

"We want people to keep away unless they absolutely have to be there," he said.

Residents should keep an ear to the radio for updates and drivers should take care on the roads.

Civil Defence said people close to rivers and streams should be prepared for a rapid rise in water levels.

Farmers should move stock to high ground where necessary and drivers should exercise caution as high winds were expected as part of the severe weather band.

MetService forecaster Richard Finnie said the heaviest falls overnight were in the Nelson Ranges, were at one gauge receiving 336mm in a 24-hour period until 6am.

Takaka Hill received 123mm of rainfall, while 55mm was recorded at Nelson Airport.

"The heaviest rain seems to have moved on now," Mr Finnie said. "There is still rain over the northern part of the South Island but the really significant falls have moved on."

Elsewhere in the country, in the Far North Kerikeri received 69mm and Kaikohe got 52mm of rain in the last 24-hours.

"The heaviest rain has been in the northern part of the South Island and the northern North Island," he said.

MetService is forecasting a further 150 to 200mm of rainfall for the eastern Bay of Plenty through to the early hours of tomorrow morning, with slightly lesser amounts spreading to northern Gisborne.

"We are still waiting for the heaviest rain to move into the Bay of Plenty," Mr Finnie said.

"The front is moving eastwards, so there is still a lot more rain for the eastern parts of the North Island."

Meanwhile the AA has reported surface flooding on State Highway 1 at Rangiriri in the Waikato, Ti Rakau Dr and Reeves Rd in Pakuranga, Auckland, and the Southern Motorway at Tip Top corner.

Kaiawa Rd, Kaiawa is closed between East Coast Rd and Mangatangi Rd due to a powerpole falling across the road.

- Paul Harper, NZPA, Newstalk ZB