Downpours and strong winds have left roads closed and streets littered with debris after severe weather ripped through Gisborne, the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay yesterday.

Many warnings and watches have now been lifted and attention today has moved to cleaning up areas swamped in floodwaters and littered with debris.

However, heavy rain and strong to gale-force winds are still forecast for parts of the central North Island, and warnings are in place for Tongariro National Park and the Kaikōura Ranges.

The Kaikōura Ranges are expecting the biggest downpour with 120-160mm due by 6pm.

Harper Rd in Gisborne was flooded yesterday. Photo / The Gisborne Herald
Harper Rd in Gisborne was flooded yesterday. Photo / The Gisborne Herald

A heavy rain watch is also in place for Taihape and the Canterbury hills and ranges north of Amberley.

Heavy rain is now falling in Christchurch, where flooding has closed Maces Rd, Clarendon Tce and Goughs Bay Rd.

Surface water is also affecting about 11 other roads in the city,

Other major roads closed overnight were Inland Route 70 between Mt Lyford and Kaikōura and the coastal State Highway 1.

If you are heading to the first day of the Waikato Fieldays, wear gumboots and take a rain jacket, as scattered showers are expected at Mystery Creek. Dress warmly too, as breezy conditions will make it feel colder than the expected max of 15C.

As the low has begun to weaken, the threat of severe gales has passed so all strong wind warnings have been lifted.

The severe weather has also closed some roads and bridges around the lower North Island.

SH53 Waihenga Bridge, near Martinborough, is closed because of rising river levels and SH56 is closed near the Manawatu River Bridge, Palmerston North, because of flooding.


Wellington police said there were concerns over the Hutt River rising overnight, and it was being monitored.

The intense showers have eased in the Gisborne area but locals will have a big task ahead managing floodwater, slips, debris and silt on the roads.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Communities announced yesterday that the flood damage around Tolaga Bay was now classified as a "medium-scale adverse event", which meant the region would get much-needed financial support.

And the Mayor of Gisborne, Meng Foon, said: "We have a lot of work to do in terms of keeping the community safe, repairs to bridges and roads and clearing of forestry slash."

One of many trees that has come down in the Gisborne region, on Gaddums Hill. Photo / The Gisborne Herald
One of many trees that has come down in the Gisborne region, on Gaddums Hill. Photo / The Gisborne Herald

Gisborne's Tairawhiti Civil Defence said that even though it has stopped raining, the ground is soaked, so it's likely slips, drop outs, potholes, debris and trees will continue to be a problem in the days ahead.

SH2 between Ōpōtiki and Gisborne and at Te Karaka is open again but road users are advised to take extra care and expect delays.

SH5 from Taupō to Napier also reopened at 12.30pm on Wednesday. NZTA said there are multiple stop/go sites, so please watch your speed. The Napier to Taihape Rd is also open.

Restrictions also remain in place on SH35 from Te Araroa to Tolaga Bay, where a stop/go and a temporary speed restriction are in place.

Thousands of homes and businesses were without power yesterday, but Unison said most of its customers should have had power restored last night. Its website is showing that about 250 customers are still without power.

Eastland Network reported 734 were still without power at 8.45am today.

Falls of about 200mm were recorded by the Gisborne District Council's rain gauge in the Waikura Valley at East Cape yesterday, and gusts of 169km/h were recorded on White Island, 113km/h near Rotorua and 100km/h at Hicks Bay.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence said all rivers, with the exception of the Lower Tukituki at Red Bridge, had returned to normal flows. The swell has also receded.

The Lower Tukituki is expected to slowly drop over the day.

"Many rivers and streams are still flowing fast and there is still a lot of debris around. Council work crews will be out cleaning up so we are asking the public to steer clear of rivers and stopbanks for the next few days," it said.

MetService has now lifted all weather warnings for Hawke's Bay.

MetService meteorologist Philippa Murdoch said things are starting to ease off.

"This low is over central New Zealand at the moment but we are expecting that to move slowly away to the east."

Other than some watches and warnings still in place, Murdoch said there will also still be some rain in Northland, Waitomo down to Kāpiti, Wellington and Wairarapa.

"In the South Island, Marlborough and Northern Canterbury are getting rain that is gradually easing off from this afternoon, then it is drizzly and low cloud and a bit mucky down the rest of the east - but it is mainly fine in the west."

Murdoch said a narrow ridge will move over the country tomorrow bringing finer weather, but another front will start on Friday, bringing more rain but not like that earlier in the week.

Today's forecast

Whangārei: Fine spells but chance shower. Westerlies easing. High 18C / Low 10C.

Auckland: Occasional showers, easing in the evening. Fresh westerlies. High 17C / Low 12C.

Tauranga: Cloudy with a few showers. Westerlies. High 17C / Low 10C.

Hamilton: Cloudy with showers. Westerlies. High 16C / Low 9C.

New Plymouth: Periods of rain, easing from evening. Northwesterly. High 16C / Low 10C.

Napier: A few showers gradually clearing. Northeasterlies tending northwest from afternoon. High 19C / Low 9C.

Palmerston North: Occasional rain, easing from evening. Southeasterlies turning northwest morning. High 15C / Low 11C.

Wellington: Periods of rain, easing from evening. Strong southerly. High 14C / Low 10C.

Nelson: Cloudy, occasional rain clearing early afternoon. Gusty southwest easing afternoon. High 16C / Low 6C.

Christchurch: Rain easing this evening. Fresh southerlies. High 11C / Low 7C.

Dunedin: Cloudy with occasional drizzle. Northeast dying out in the afternoon. High 11C / Low 8C.