A south Auckland family who were trapped in their home while floodwaters rose could only watch as livestock on the farm drowned.
Grant and Emma Henson and their children were forced out of their rental home near Clevedon yesterday morning, when waist-deep floods made it impossible to drive out.
The couple and children Carys, 11, Kahn, 10, Caoimhe, 3, and Steele, 6 months, saw horrific sights.
"My kids were asking me why wasn't I running out into the paddocks to save these sheep, because we did see some, sort of swimming and gasping for air," Mr Henson said.
"It was hard to explain to them."
The family stayed with a friend last night. Mr Henson tried to get back to his house yesterday, but there was no way through.
After going back to assess the damage this morning, he was not hopeful of returning home today.
Vehicles were submerged in water. Hundreds of sheep on the farm were suspected to be dead.
"I saw at least a dozen floating in the water," he said.
"They definitely weren't swimming."
The farm workers were "pretty depressed", he said.
Mr Henson said they were playing it by ear, hoping the weather would improve.