Just hours after waves burst over the sea bank in the coastal town of Kaiaua, residents were launching into a cleanup effort.
At least 15 displaced residents in the small town south of Auckland have been relocated to the Kaiaua fire station.
Late this afternoon, despite warnings from Civil Defence to "stay away", many shell-shocked residents were floating around surveying the damage.
People could be seen pulling cars and other possessions from the floodwaters.
Meanwhile diggers were out in force on East Coast Rd, which runs along the coast of the small town, working to clear a foot of sand blanketing the tarseal.
Residents hit hardest by the flooding have lost fences, possessions and some the entire bottom level of their home.
Glass was strewn through a bedroom on the bottom floor of one home on East Coast Rd, where the force of the water had punched through a glass sliding door.
Bonnie Campbell, 84, was at the house with her great-grandchildren this morning when they noticed how high the tide had become.
"We looked out and I thought well the tide is still another three hours until it's high, and it's already coming over the bank already ... we'd better move our cars."
The trio moved the two cars sitting on the property around the corner to higher ground, but then found themselves trapped.
"We couldn't get back, the tide had just swept through so quickly. So so quickly, it was unreal."
Campbell looked stricken as she inspected the damage throughout the bottom floor of her home.
There had been flooding in the area near the beginning of last year, she said, but it hadn't been nearly as bad.
Down the road the owner of the GAS petrol station Mark Remnant said they had been lucky.
Remnant was in the petrol station when the flood hit this morning. He had watched the waves get "bigger and bigger" but they hadn't quite reached his forecourt.
"We were fine here, we didn't get wet in the shop. But no one can get to us so we figured there wasn't much point being open."
Gas supplies were under cover, he said, but he did expect some stock loss as the result of a power cut.
The store would be back open later in the afternoon.
Civil Defence said in a statement staff were still assessing damage as access became available.
They were determining the number of people and properties affected - those worst damaged would be assessed for safety by Hauraki District Council building inspectors over the weekend.