The Roters family from Manchester knew New Zealand was a country familiar with natural disaster.

What they didn't count on was having their Kiwi holiday hijacked by a tropical storm that forced them into an evacuation centre and now looking likely to drastically change their touring holiday across the North Island.

Mum Sally Roters said the family of four were halfway through a three-week Kiwi campervan holiday visiting family and taking in sights when they were unexpectedly caught up in Thursday's major evacuation along the Bay of Plenty coastline.

"We had just arrived yesterday and were staying at Matata in the campground. Police came and evacuated the area and told us to leave as soon as possible. They told us to go to the Memorial Hall in Whakatane."


The family spent a noisy night in the hall with more than 100 others seeking refuge from the cyclone.

But she praised the kindness of those rallying to make everyone as safe as possible.

"It was very comfortable and people were very helpful," Roters said.

Meanwhile her two daughters were treating it as a huge adventure.

Youngest daughter Megan, 8, had been studying natural disasters at her Manchester school and had been excited to see first-hand a volcanic landscape.

"We thought we were coming to see volcanoes but got a bit more than we expected," said Sally Roters.

Said 12-year-old Olivia: "It was exciting because I haven't been in a tropical storm before."

Now plans for the rest of their holiday which is due to end next week were up in the air.


"We're just waiting to hear about the roads. A lot of the roads of are blocked and there's no electricity in the town. We're waiting to hear if we can go back to the campground or if we need to leave. "