A horrific video has emerged showing the sheer force of the floodwaters that submerged farmland and destroyed bridges in the South Island.
In a video posted to social media platform TikTok, a flock of sheep can be seen trying to stay afloat while being swept away in the fast-flowing flood water.
The video's caption said the footage was taken in Rangiora, north of Christchurch.
It appears in the video that some of the sheep make it to land after being swept along in the floodwaters.
Ten State Highways and several other roads in the region had been closed, bridges had been destroyed and hundreds of people had been evacuated from their homes due to flooding.
Farmers have been working in dangerous conditions to rescue animals and move their stock as heavy rainfall drenched Canterbury.
Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Clark told RNZ it had been an extremely challenging day with multiple rescues of farmers and members of the public, as well as stock losses.
"If we can finish today without having somebody killed in the day's events that will be a great outcome because farmers are working very, very hard to look after the welfare of their animals and as we've seen by today's rescues, in some cases they've actually put their own lives on the line to save animals," he told the outlet.
He said the rainfall was much worse than expected and he had spent much of yesterday relocating and feeding stock affected by the floods.
North Canterbury farmer Peter Schouten told RNZ watching the river rise on Sunday brought back memories of floods in 2009 where he lost nearly 100 cows.
Knowing a significant rainfall event was forecast, Clark spent the week preparing the farm and moving stock to appropriate paddocks.
Niwa said the Canterbury region had been dealt two to three months of rain in the space of just as many days.
MetService said the rain was easing across the region but caution was still required around flooded rivers.