Weather warnings and road closures are set to cause trouble this weekend for school holiday traffic.
The rare "red warning" issued for parts of the West Coast this morning has warned people to prepare for heavy rain, flooding, slips.
Accommodation and tourism operators are reporting cancellations as guests head home early to avoid travel chaos.
"For the last week we've been fully booked," says David Hinkston, manager of the Buller Court Motel, told Newstalk ZB.
"Just today with the rain warnings a couple of people have decided to check out early, cancel their future reservations for the weekend and try and beat the weather."
Many guests may not be able to dodge the weather bomb, with road closures reported.
State Highway 73 has suffered two slips - one at Rocky Point and one at Otira. The West Coast has been cut off at Arthur's Pass.
The Coast is popular with outdoorsy tourists this time of year, but connectivity can be susceptible to wild weather.
The July School holidays are "vital" to the local economy, says Patrick Dault,Destination Development Manager for West Coast tourism.
Visitors from markets in nearby Christchurch, Central Otago and Nelson make up the bulk of the season. All of whom will now be finding it very difficult to drive home.
"July is 6 percent of our total tourism take," higher than most other destinations, says Dault.
However, Hinkston however says many tourists have decided against venturing out choosing to cut their trips short.
"Our guests have curtailed their travel itinerary around the West Coast for sight seeing."
With access to the West Coast only accessible from one of two routes, he says business will be impacted and some tourists may be forced to "hunker down" because they can't get out.
The West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail has temporary closures in place at high water crossings at Cowboy's Paradise near Hokitika .
The Scenic Waterways, which runs sightseeing tours on Lake Mahinapua reported fast rising water on the creek.
The country's weather service issued its third-ever red warning for Buller and Westland, north of Fox Glacier, from 9pm last night to 6am on Saturday.
A state of emergency has been declared in the Buller district and an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has been activated in response to the severe weather.
They are recommending those in low-lying areas should prepare to evacuate and have a grab bag ready to go.