Steps in a shopping mall turned into a waterfall, businesses closed, homes flooded and one opportunist surfed the city streets as a massive deluge of rain soaked New Plymouth today.

The heavy downpour struck at 1pm and lasted about an hour, causing chaos around the city.

New Plymouth Fire Service senior station officer Jason Crowe said four appliances attended 10 jobs, mostly of flooding of low-lying properties. No one was injured.

The firefighters pumped water from homes, unblocked drains and lifted precious possessions to higher ground as the water seeped in front doors and through leaks in roofing.

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"It was a really, really big deluge," Crowe said.

Rain poured inside homes and shops in New Plymouth as firefighters were called to multiple flooding events across the city today. Photo / Jonathan Young
Rain poured inside homes and shops in New Plymouth as firefighters were called to multiple flooding events across the city today. Photo / Jonathan Young

A surfer wearing a wetsuit and complete with paddleboard has been captured on video being swept along a flooded Gill St, which backs on to a shopping complex.

Stairs in the Centre City mall were filmed by a shopper with water pouring down them.

A spokeswoman for the mall told Fairfax staff were now doing all they could to clean up the shopping centre.

It's understood several shops within the complex were closed because of the flooding.

Metservice meteorologist Tom Adams said the deluge was "short and sharp", dumping up to 50 millimetres of rain on the city in two to three hours.

The average daily rainfall in July for New Plymouth was 9.5mm.

"Around 1pm to 2pm today there was a big spike. They had been having showers but only recording 2-4mm an hour.

"This is what thunderstorms do. It was a little hotspot that just went over the city. It just happen to slam the city."

Adams said about 25mm was recorded at the Brooklands Zoo monitoring station, the highest recording of the one-hour event so far.

The water was reportedly up to 30cm deep in some places with cars struggling to drive through some streets.