The storm that hit much of the North Island delivered a mighty blow, dumping litres of water, silt, displaced possessions and in one case – a jellyfish – in people's front yards.

Kaiaua local Barbara Campbell had an unexpected visitor when she returned home from volunteering through the worst of the flooding — a jellyfish had found a new home on the steps leading up to her deck.

Campbell said she was caught off guard by how quickly floodwater inundated her Puriri Ave home — which was a decent distance back from the beach. Upon receiving a call from a fellow St John Ambulance staffer around 9.30am she told her colleague everything was fine.

"'Nothing is wrong here', I said. But then I went down to the beach and there were huge waves coming down on to the road.


"So I came back home, made some phone calls ... and then within half an hour I looked outside and it was just covered with water."

Campbell was informed of her slimy new friend by a friend who had visited her house when she was out.

She hadn't seen anything like it on the beach before, but I thought it was "beautiful".

Barbara Campbell with the jellyfish she found on her front steps 200m from the foreshore. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Barbara Campbell with the jellyfish she found on her front steps 200m from the foreshore. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The 71-year-old said she had a fair amount of cleaning up to do - the flooding had almost destroyed her garden - but the township was all pitching in to help one another.

"It's a good crew down there," she said. "The mayor has just arrived, people are bringing food over, others are offering to do barbecues for us.

"People are wonderful, they've all pulled together."

Glass was strewn through a bedroom on the bottom floor of Bonnie Campbell's home, floating in pools of muddy, silty water.

The Kaiaua resident's home had been hit hard by waves of seawater which burst over a low bank in the small coastal town south of Auckland yesterday.


The floodwater punched through a glass sliding door and demolished her fence. The 84-year-old said she had been at her East Coast Rd house with her great-grandchildren when they noticed how high the tide had become.

"We looked out and I thought well it's still another three hours until it's high tide, and it's already coming over the bank ... we'd better move our cars."

Photo / Jason Oxenham
Photo / Jason Oxenham

They moved two cars from 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's 14-year-old great-grandson Tyler said they had been warned to get out by an alert from the local fire brigade.

"By the time they said that though, it was a bit too late."

Campbell looked stricken as she inspected the damage throughout the bottom floor of her home. Her backyard had been transformed into a lake, with a garden shed partially submerged.

A dinghy that had been sitting over by the shed had floated across the water to rest by the house.

There had been flooding in the area near the beginning of last year, she said, but it hadn't been nearly as bad.

Photo / Jason Oxenham
Photo / Jason Oxenham

Her daughter, Tina Killeen, said the flooding was a crisis that could have been averted if Hauraki District Council had put measures in place such as a seawall.

"Something should have been done after the last time the area flooded," she said.

"It's like they're the forgotten people down here."

Not all in town had unexpected items turn up – for one antiques collector it was a case of items being taken by the floods.

Another Kaiaua resident and antique collector was shell-shocked upon realising he had lost the bulk of his antique collection, stored in the front room of his waterfront home.

Dan Cooper had been out of his house when the flooding started and described the scene he came back to as "devastating".

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of items, gone. Everything we own."

Cooper said the town had been hit with a similar level of flooding back in the 90s. "It's a disaster waiting to happen," he said.

"The council hasn't done anything about an awful lot of flood protection, because we're coastal I guess."

Damaged properties would be assessed for safety by council building inspectors over the weekend.

Displaced residents were relocated to the Kaiaua fire station, where volunteers were cooking and looking after fire crews as they rotated on and off shifts helping with evacuations.

Despite warnings from Civil Defence to "stay away", many locals continued moving around the town surveying the damage.

People could be seen pulling cars and other possessions from the floodwaters. Along the coastal road, diggers worked to clear 25cm of sand blanketing the tarseal.