'10 minutes of madness': evacuations in Piha

9:39 pm on 3 February 2018

About one hundred people evacuated from homes in Piha in West Auckland after heavy rains caused flash flooding this afternoon have been allowed home.

Police and the fire service evacuated homes around Glen Esk, Seaview and Beach Valley Roads after heavy rain caused flooding.

About 100 people gathered at the nearby surf club and campground as a precaution, but police said the flooding appeared to be receding.

Piha beach and lagoon

About 100 people are moving to the surf club and the camp ground after their homes were evacuated due to heavy rains this afternoon. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

A number of people who were walking a bush track off Piha Road called police at 5.15pm concerned they were trapped by rising river levels.

The group of approximately 20 included people from various groups walking in the bush banded together to get out safely.

They found a safe route back out of the bush and walkied out towards Glen Esk Road.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch for Auckland, Great Barrier Island, Northland south of Whangarei and Coromandel Peninsula until early tomorrow.

It said a small but intense low over the northern North Island could bring heavy rain and isolated thunderstorms to the area.

Up to 60mm could fall in nine hours in those areas.

'We had 10 minutes of madness '

Flooded Piha camping ground

Flooded Piha camping ground Photo: Facebook / Piha Domain camping ground

The manager of a Piha camp ground says the area was hit by a short deluge which caused the local stream to burst its banks.

Fiona Anderson said an enormous amount of rain came down in a very quick period of time.

"What's happened is the river has burst its bank in Glen Esk Road. So several of the lower-lying households there have been evacuated.

"We had 10 minutes of madness here while everybody very quickly packed up ... and moved all their tents.

"Even the fire brigade ended up being cut off - with the river on both sides of them."

Flooded Piha camping ground

Flooded Piha camping ground Photo: Facebook / Piha Domain camping ground

She said someone from the surf club threw an inflatable rescue boat on a trailer, sped to the scene and ferried people to safety.

"We're very resilient people in Piha, we're used to just winging it."

Ms Anderson said part of the grounds were covered in water and about 40 people who were camping have gone home.

She said a lot more rain was expected in the early hours and she would be keeping a close eye on the river levels.