Weather authorities are warning of heavy downpours across already rain-soaked regions - including Auckland - and a risk of flooding and slips.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) says heavy rain is developing offshore.
“Heads up North Island - including Auckland region and Coromandel. Heavy rain is developing offshore. Periods of heavy rain will occur this morning - some rain will be torrential.”
The heaviest rain is most likely going to be over Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty this afternoon, Niwa says.
A slip has blocked State Highway 25 north of Ruamahanga boat ramp on the Thames Coast, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said.
Motorists were asked to drive with caution and expect delays.
“Carey Rd, Port Charles is closed due to a void that has formed in the road over a culvert approximately 900m from the start of the road. The estimated reopening is late this afternoon.
“Te Kouma Road is closed following a slip that has come down blocking the road just past Puriri Rd. The estimated reopening is midday today,” the agency said.
Thames Coromandel District Council said travellers should add extra time to their journey and prepare for delays.
“Our roading crews are clearing debris and fallen trees as quickly as possible. The Monday commute could also be disrupted as spring tides at 3.30am and 4pm will put pressure on saturated catchments,” the council said.
“We are odds-on for a significant weather event this week so the key messages are stay connected and well informed, and above all don’t take risks,” Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler said.
Air travel across parts of New Zealand has been affected by fog this morning. Flights coming in and out of Dunedin Airport were affected.
MetService said the fog was along the east coast of the South Island all the way from the Catlins up to Cook Strait which made “it very difficult to land at affected airports”.
The heavy rain and strong winds have caused commuter chaos for Aucklanders this morning as a sub-tropical storm moves across the North Island, bringing downpours and strong winds.
Motorists heading into the city centre from West Auckland faced a challenging journey with reports of surface flooding and congested traffic on the motorway.
A woman driving from New Lynn described high winds also adding to the mayhem - as strong gusts drove the sometimes heavy rain horizontal.
“There’s shallow flooding on some major West Auckland roads coming in from New Lynn - like Great North Rd. Water has pooled from overnight rain and vehicles are encountering shallow flooding.
“On top of what’s on the road, the wind is driving sheets of torrential rain, reducing visibility. That’s the worst part.”
Lashings of rain started to fall from about 4am to 6am, MetService said, with about 10mm of rain recorded at Auckland Airport between 5am and 6am.
Just after 6am, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency alerted motorists to delays on State Highway 1 Bombay to Ramarama after two crashes.
The lanes were temporarily blocked after Bombay to assist with vehicle recovery from the earlier crash.
Motorists were advised to delay their journey.
MetService meteorologist Clare O’Connor said the threshold for heavy rain is 6mm in an hour. That heavy rain, however, is now moving south away from the city.
“Your commute there in Auckland - do prepare for some wet weather still. There are still quite a few bands of rain that will be moving south over Auckland.
“As we get into the afternoon, it’ll start to dry out and you might even have a dry trip home tonight, maybe.”
Motorists are urged to drive to the conditions, as a result.
In an alert, MetService said the heavy rain was now heading southeast, with radar showing downpours over Coromandel and Auckland.
Orange Heavy warnings were in place for Coromandel and Western Bay of Plenty and the heavy rain watch for Auckland had been lifted.
SH1 Dome Valley and Brynderwyn Hills reopens
That warning comes as State Highway 1 over Northland’s Brynderwyns opens up to traffic in both directions at 6am today, after weeks of work was carried out after Cyclone Gabrielle caused massive slips in the area.
Dome Valley was closed by a slip Sunday afternoon and reopened this morning about 7.30am.
Strong wind gusts have ripped off roofs and grounded boats in the Far North already, with forecasters warning the worst may be yet to come.
Auckland Emergency Management has issued a warning the Harbour Bridge may close if wind gusts worsen, and State Highway 1 at Dome Valley is already closed to southbound traffic due to a slip.
Auckland has been told to prepare for intense rain between now and tomorrow morning.
Last night, MetService forecaster Aidan Pyselman said the “nasty weather” would peak today and tomorrow.
Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) has told Aucklanders to “keep an eye on forecasts” and prepare for bad weather, while MetService has issued a heavy rain watch for the nation’s biggest city.
Forecasters have warned of periods of heavy rain that “may approach warning criteria”.
Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) duty controller Rachel Kelleher said, given there may be some increasing wind gusts throughout the afternoon and tonight, it was important to take “extreme care” while driving.
Kelleher warned there may be restrictions to the Harbour Bridge if wind gusts “get up” and said it was “really important” for people to keep an eye out on the weather forecast.
“Not just for today and tomorrow, but also as we move throughout this week because it does look like we might have some further adverse weather coming through around Wednesday and Thursday with the potential of thunderstorms.”
Kelleher said people should have their phones charged up, torches handy, water bottles filled and a plan if you they need to leave their home.
“We are prepared to stand up civil defence shelters and civil defence centres if they are indeed needed and the locations of any of those sites will be made available throughout Auckland Emergency Management channels.”
Overnight in Auckland, the downpours are set to continue, with strong easterlies, gale about and north of Albany, gusting 100km/h in exposed places.
There will be periods of heavy rain tomorrow, with easterly winds possibly approaching severe gales in exposed places.
Further north, the roof has been ripped off an historic building in Russell and a boat was being pumped out to stop it sinking as a big storm bears down on Northland the and rest of the upper North Island.
Heavy winds on Sunday afternoon ripped part of the roof off the Gables Restaurant in Russell. The Gables is New Zealand’s oldest operating restaurant, built from pit-sawn kauri in 1847.
Also in the Bay of Islands, Paihia volunteer firefighters rushed to help rescue a large catamaran that beached at Paihia in strong winds and torrential rain on Sunday.
There were also reports of surface flooding in parts of the region, particularly in the Bay of Islands as high tide hit around 2.30pm. As well, a number of outages cut power to parts of the region, about 1000 homes remain without power in the Far North.
Meanwhile, the Coromandel Peninsula has already received an orange heavy rain warning, which states that the area should prepare for between 150 and 200 millimetres of rain from early today morning to late Monday, with peak rates of 15 to 25 millimetres per hour anticipated from Sunday evening.
The Thames District Council is warning commuters to be careful as spring tides at 3.30am and 4pm will put pressure on saturated catchments.
It could mean the region will get a typical April amount of rain in less than 48 hours.
The Bay of Plenty, especially regions west of Kawerau, including Rotorua, should also expect heavy downpours from Sunday evening through to Tuesday morning.
An orange heavy rain warning will come into force for Bay of Plenty, west of Kawerau and including Rotorua, at 2pm today and will remain in place until 2am Tuesday.
MetService is warning the area to expect up to 220mm of rain and peak rainfall amounts to reach 25mm/h.
There is also an orange heavy rain warning for Tasman northwest of Motueka from 3pm tomorrow through to 3pm Tuesday.
The wet and wild active front has been edging its way down the upper North Island and has forecasters warning of potential flooding and slips.
MetService meteorologist Mmathapelo Makgabutlane said rainfall so far has been widespread.
“We are still expecting that to continue for today,” she said.
“The other thing to keep in mind today is we are expecting quite strong winds as well.”
MetService said it’s been a windy 12 hours in Northland with Whangārei and Kaitaia recording 76km/h gusts.
Further north, Purerua has seen wind gust speeds around 87km/h and Kaikohe has seen speeds of 72km/h and 53mm of rainfall since midnight.
Overnight heavy downpours were recorded in Kaikohe, with 10mm of rain falling per hour.
Niwa, meanwhile, says the low will cause an “atmospheric river” that will stick around for the week, “waxing and waning in intensity as it funnels moisture” from the tropics to New Zealand.
There are fears of a repeat of the catastrophic Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods, which saw the city’s leadership, including Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, come under scrutiny for their response during the flooding’s first 12 hours, when much of the damage was done.
Seeing the increasingly bleak storm outlooks, Brown requested a top-level briefing with key emergency management staff on Friday.
There is also a strong wind watch in place for Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and eastern Waikato near the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges.
Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency advised any drivers around the Coromandel Peninsula this morning to be cautious.
“Many locations on the Coromandel network are still compromised following this year’s storm events, and drivers need to be aware that heavy rain will increase the vulnerability,” said Waikato journey manager Liam Ryan.