It was meant to be a relaxed stay at one of the South Island's more scenic holiday spots.

But Auckland man John McNamee and his parents, visiting from England, instead found themselves camped out in a community hall after they were quickly evacuated in the middle of the night because of severe flooding.

They woke up this morning to find cars completely submerged by water.

Mr McNamee and his parents are currently travelling around the South Island and spent yesterday exploring the Franz Josef Glacier and the town, before returning to the Top 10 Holiday Park in Franz Josef in the evening.


They were forced to spend last night in a nearby community hall, however, after the holiday park campsite on the banks of the Waiho River was swamped by floodwaters.

"We were informed at about 10pm yesterday that we may have to evacuate due to the river bursting its banks," Mr McNamee told the Herald.

"It was then at about 1am this morning, with the rain still coming down heavy, that we were awoken by the local fire service and told to leave the holiday park for an emergency evacuation to the community centre."

He said they were welcomed at the hall by friendly locals, as well as the Red Cross and emergency services, who provided blankets and a hot drink for about 50 people who had been evacuated from the Top 10 Holiday Park and other holiday parks nearby.

"It was a relaxed atmosphere, helped by the nature of the staff and emergency services."

The 28-year-old said they were told by the Fire Service to stay the night in the hall because of the dangerous weather conditions and to wait for a further update in the morning.

"This morning we were provided with breakfast at the landing bay cafe in Franz Josef. The rain was still pouring with a large amount of surface water on the road. We were told that we could proceed with caution along the road up the west coast to head to Greymouth, our next stop. As we did drive on we passed a Speights pub by the Top 10 Holiday Park with cars left in the carpark completely submerged in water."