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A State of Emergency was declared in Ngongotaha and the Rotorua Lakes Council was forced to activate its Emergency Operations Centre as wet weather forced evacuations and doused most of the country in large volumes of rain.
The good news is the rain is expected to ease by Tuesday and had brought ideal conditions for snow in the South Island.
A complex low bringing bands of rain to northern and eastern parts of both islands affected most of New Zealand yesterday with more expected today. The rain is expected to begin clearing tomorrow.
Rotorua received a downpour of 120mm in 18 hours, with 81mm falling in just four hours between 7am and 11am on Sunday.
The rain has overwhelmed the sewerage system, he said.
Among those trapped in Ngongotaha were about 200 visitors at the Agrodome farm experience tourist attraction.
Ines Friese, who lives on Pioneer Rd, has been left scared after water from the Ngongotaha Stream "raced down the road" towards her.
"We were just dropping something to my mother-in-law around the corner on Mohi Cres, water just came shooting down the street.
Image 1 of 61: Flooding in Rotorua. Cormac Davis, 12, . Moncur Dr. Photo/Ben Fraser
"I ran to check she was okay and saw a caravan floating down the road."
A woman was also rescued from her car on her way to KFC during a day full of emergency call-outs caused by flooding, slips and tree falls in Rotorua.
Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Service Chief Francis Boag said an inundation of calls started about 7am.
"All the guys are busy and totally soaking wet," he said just after 10am.
He said the brigade's two crews had been all over Ngongotaha, Hamurana and Rotorua.
"We are going from one call to the other, all flooding related."
MetService had a heavy rain watch in place for Gisborne and Hawkes Bay until 9am this morning.
In the Coromandel SH25 Whangamata to Waihi was closed due to flooding.
However, in the South Island, skiers and snowboarders had something to celebrate with Cardrona Alpine Resort getting 50cm of snow, Coronet Peak 35cm and The Remarkables ski resort recording 20cm over the weekend.
On the coast of the South Island the usually dry South and Mid Canterbury recorded 50mm of rain in Timaru and Ashburton, causing surface flooding in several of the two towns' streets.