Four people were forced to clamber out of their cars and wade through floodwaters to get to safety as heavy rain and winds wreaked havoc along the Coromandel Peninsula.

Three Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) crews were called to help the stranded motorists who were travelling in a van and a car along Hikuai Settlement Rd, just before 8pm on Thursday.

SH25 Hikuai to Whangamata was closed due to a slip yesterday. Photo / Thames-Coromandel District Council
SH25 Hikuai to Whangamata was closed due to a slip yesterday. Photo / Thames-Coromandel District Council

Shift manager Craig Dally said the group were treated for mild hypothermia after getting themselves out of the water.

It was one of dozens of jobs emergency services have been called to as wild weather hammered the area overnight.

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Roads and weather update morning 17 July: The State Highway network in the Coromandel is still cut in several places as...

Posted by Thames-Coromandel District Council on Thursday, 16 July 2020

Waikato areas, including Te Aroha, and the Coromandel Peninsula have been hardest hit by a deluge of rain and strong winds that dragged down powerlines and left locals without power.

Three sections of State Highway 25 remain closed this morning by flooding and slips in the area.

Power outages were reported in nearly 150 homes, as strong winds ripped powerlines and trees to the ground.

Cyclone-strength winds battering Te Aroha for the past few days left 86 homes in the dark, while trees flattening power lines have affected a further 65 properties in Tapu on the Thames coast.

Powerco estimated that the affected properties won't have their lights back on until midday at the earliest. Some have been without power since yesterday morning.

Sections of State Highway 25 are closed due to flooding. Image / Thames-Coromandel District Council
Sections of State Highway 25 are closed due to flooding. Image / Thames-Coromandel District Council

Thirteen people were forced to stay an extra night at the Pinnacles Hut and are set to be escorted down today.

Winds gusting to 100km/h continued into the night and residents were warned to prepare for further power outages as trees and roofs came down on the network.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) were kept busy as the weather wreaked havoc, with one crew responding to a toppled-over shed in Te Aroha shortly before 11pm.

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It was one of dozens of jobs emergency services have been called to as wild weather hammers the area, with the Te Aroha brigade alone attending 45 call-outs on Thursday.

Matamata-Piako District councillor Russell Smith said he heard the volunteer brigade alarm ring out throughout the night, with the winds showing no sign of abating.

"It's been blowing since 7pm Wednesday. I was hoping at 11pm it was going to clear but it hasn't eased up at all. I've been listening to the siren go off all night."

He said the gales were proving so fierce at least one hospitality business in Te Aroha did not open their doors yesterday, the conditions considered too dangerous for workers and customers to be in the area.

Sheds had collapsed and there was a lot of debris flying around, including road signs and branches, strewn across the region's roads.

Council teams would be out this morning assessing damage.

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Civil Defence controller Garry Towler said the blustery weather would continue overnight, but no fine weather was on the cards for the area until next week.

"We are keeping an eye on the strong easterly winds and swells forecast for next week, this could impact coastal communities," he said.

Coromandel residents have been told to stay home as lashing rain, flooding and slips cut off parts of the peninsula.

Civil Defence was also urging tourists to keep off the roads, saying huge volumes of traffic were putting people's lives at risk.

Thames-Coromandel contractors said they were frustrated to see heavy traffic in the rain, despite warnings yesterday to stay home.

"The entire Coromandel is getting battered and everyone needs to heed the warnings, stay off the roads and sit this out until tomorrow," Towler said.

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"It is going to get worse before things improve and high tide will undoubtedly bring more closures so let's not put our contractors at further risk."

A heavy rain watch is in force for the Coromandel Peninsula, with MetService warning of peak rainfall rates of up to 25mm/h, with localised downpours of up to 35mm/h on Thursday evening.

And the troublesome weather was expected to move to Gisbourne overnight, with periods of heavy rain - potentially approaching warning criteria - on the cards.

MetService's Gisborne weather station recorded 16mm of rainfall last night, with 20mm recorded at other stations in the region.

A heavy rain watch is in place for Gisborne and south of Tolaga Bay, especially around the ranges, until 9pm Friday.

The Gisborne area north of Tolaga Bay and around the ranges will be drenched with up to 150mm of rain, with a heavy rain warning out until 9pm.

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Peak rainfall of up to 20mm/h is expected on Friday morning and early afternoon, with surface flooding and slips possible and driving conditions compromised.

Locals have been warned that the heavy rain may cause rivers and streams to rise.

A heavy rain watch was in force for the Coromandel Peninsula until 3am Friday, with MetService warning of peak rainfall rates of up to 25mm/h and localised downpours of up to 35mm/h this evening.

The Bay of Plenty area west of Te Puke, including Tauranga, is set for a drenching, with periods of heavy rain that may approach warning criteria.

MetService issued a heavy rain watch for the area ending at 1am Friday.

Western parts of the Coromandel Peninsula and the Waikato area near the Kaimai range will see easterly winds that may approach severe gale at times.

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