Waitotara residents are being told to prepare for the possibility of flooding as the Waitotara River rises rapidly.

Taranaki Civil Defence swung into action earlier this afternoon to monitor rising river levels in the South Taranaki district.

The Waitotara Valley Rd was closed yesterday afternoon and Ngamatapouri School, near the top of the valley, was evacuated.

South Taranaki District Council's civil defence controller Shane Briggs said that evacuation of Waitotara township was not currently considered necessary.

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"But residents are urged to be prepared if the situation changes, and to keep survival items and getaway kits handy. Some may wish to self-evacuate as a precaution, and go and stay with friends or whanau elsewhere," Mr Briggs said.

He said if the situation changes those in the township will be told to leave.

"If there's a knock on the door at 10'clock, it will be because the situation has become serious."

Mr Briggs said there had been a few minor flooding events in the district.

Meanwhile, SH4 between Whanganui River Road and Raetihi is closed due to surface flooding.

However, there are detours in place. Northbound traffic should use SH3, SH1 and SH49, with the reverse route for southbound. This detour could add up to two hours to your journey.

Or people should consider delaying their travel until the weather settles.