A Haast couple woke at 4am today to find their cat sodden - and their house swimming in 60cm-deep floodwaters - after widespread flooding hit the Okuru area overnight, also forcing the evacuation of the local motorcamp, where floodwaters were thigh-deep.

Several cars were also submerged.

Further north, the same rainstorm aggravated the big slip on the Arthur's Pass highway, bringing down a further 3000 cubic metres of rubble overnight. The road was still open, though.

State Highway 6 through South Westland was also reopened to single lane due to flooding and slips in the Fox Hills and at Bullock Creek, just south of Fox Glacier.


With no cellphone coverage in Haast, most landlines out and low cloud preventing helicopters from getting up, it was unclear this morning just how many houses had been flooded.

However, at least two were inundated at Mussel Point, between Haast and Okuru, as well as the Haast Beach Holiday Park.

Sheri Wright made it to Rochelle van der Burg's house at Mussel Point about 9am.

They said they had not realised their house had been flooded until the cat jumped off the bed, landed in water, and promptly jumped back up, sodden.

Wright said the worst of the storm was about 4am.

Most flooding had come from the Okuru River and estuary, which also includes the waters of the Hapuka and Turnbull rivers.

"We are very isolated."

By mid-morning as the tide went out the water level was dropping quickly.


Wright recorded 150mm of rain at Hannahs Clearing between lunchtime yesterday and 4am today.

Adam Cowan, from the Haast Beach Service Centre, said he had been called to three flooded cars at the motorcamp and one at a bach.

Several sections of the Haast-Jackson Bay Road were still flooded at 10am, including Crikey Creek and Jolly's Corner.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said the water was thigh-deep through the motorcamp and they had to start evacuations at 2am.

Mechanics were at the scene this morning trying to move cars and get them going again.
"There's widespread flooding."

Haast deputy fire chief Eamonnd Johnston said three cars had been flooded.

He knew of one house between Okuru and Mussel Point which was significantly flooded, and another had about 10cm through. Pumping would have been useless due to the sheer volume of water, he said.

The Hapuka, Okuru and Turnbull rivers shared a mouth before the flooding, but by this morning there were three separate mouths, Mr Johnston said.

"It's breached the spit in three places."

The overnight deluge, combined with the blocked river mouth, had created the worst flooding in a decade.

Westland District Council engineer Alistair McPhee said staff were assessing a slip which had closed the Jackson Bay road since Tuesday, following a 4.6 magnitude earthquake.

That was at the site of pre-existing slip but was not believed to be major.

- Greymouth Star