A man clinging to a bridge in floodwaters in Kawerau had to be rescued by the fire service, as the region experienced one of its wettest weekends in some time, forcing the postponement of Rotorua events.

The man was rescued from floodwaters in River Rd in the early hours of yesterday morning after he decided to ditch his car and walk the rest of the way home because of rising floodwaters.

Kawerau Fire Service station officer Tyrel Katu said the man had to call for help and was found "clinging on to the bridge, worried he was going to be washed away" when the fire service arrived.

"He was trapped and couldn't move."


Mr Katu said luckily the man had his phone in his hand and was able to call for help. The crew gave him a line and a lifejacket before he and another crew member "grabbed him out", Mr Katu said.

"He was very, lucky."

Mr Katu said they had numerous callouts over the weekend and the water was so deep they couldn't get through to one of the first callouts at a flooded home on Wilson Cres.

"We couldn't get to that one. The water was getting a little bit too deep even for the fire appliance ... We stopped and reversed out."

In the 60 hours from the early hours of Friday morning, about 188mm of rain fell in Rotorua, with Kawerau reportedly receiving more than 400mm of rain in just 24 hours.

The sodden weather forced several of the weekend's events to be called off, with the Teddy Bears Picnic now being held on Saturday while Art in the Park was cancelled and Ride the Runway had to be postponed until today .

Metservice meteorologist Brian Mercer said it was the wettest weekend Rotorua had seen for the last while - but the good news was that fine weather was on its way.

He said while there were some relatively significant falls - the heaviest last night - the amount of rain was not enough to spark warning levels.

"The heaviest falls were Saturday evening and overnight and then it eased off earlier [Sunday] morning."

Mr Mercer said the 188mm recorded at Rotorua Airport was a sign of a wet weekend.

Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell said the sun was once again shining in the town today with people cleaning up the mess, he said.

"All the water is gone now. The fire brigade are helping people pump water out of businesses and a few homes that got a bit of water through them."

Mr Campbell said the region experienced a significant weather bomb and was told the area received 409mm of rain in a 24-hour period.

"But most of it seemed to fall in the 12 hours from 2am to 2pm (overnight Friday).

"There's no major damage, wet carpets and that sort of stuff and a few wet cars after getting caught in about 1200mm water in the promenade.

"But, it's all back to normal again today and we will be looking to get our engineering team together to find out how it happened and how we can stop it in the future.

"We've had a couple of incidents like this in the past, but not as bad as this one, as it did catch us a bit short."

He said the main thing was no one was hurt, and the damage was fairly minor.

Kawerau resident Grant Reid said he almost needed a canoe to go outside yesterday.

He said the water was about waist deep in the Jellicoe Court area after "torrential" rain.

"It the worst I've seen in it 17 years."

However, he said by today the streets had dried up and the town was getting back to normal.
- Additional reporting: Matthew Martin

This week's forecast:

Monday - Fine spells and a few showers.
Tuesday- Mainly fine, light winds.
Wednesday - Mainly fine, light winds.
Thursday - Mainly fine, light winds.
Friday - Partly cloudy with light winds.