A state of emergency is in force in Westland district and a person has died after the area was inundated with record rainfall.
Here's what you need to know
A elderly woman's body has washed up on the banks of a flooded West Coast river, police said.
They said they were called to the Arahura Valley, north of Hokitika, just before 9.30am. It appears the woman got out of her car to cross a flooded road, and was swept away in the strong current
Some parts of Westland had up to 800mm of rain since yesterday and the town of Haast experienced a one-in-100-year flood.
Waiho Bridge on State Highway 6 just south of Franz Josef township washed away in torrential rain yesterday. It connects south Westland to the rest of the West Coast and is a vital link for the tourist centres of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.
The Transport Agency said it hopes to have the bridge rebuilt within 10 days.
Westland Civil Defence controller Simon Bastion said it had been a "horrendous" and "scary" 24 hours on the Coast, but rivers were now receding.
The West Coast Emergency Co-ordination Centre (ECC) and Westland Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) are operating.
Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi arrived in Hokitika this morning, and will be visiting various locations in Westland throughout the day, Civil Defence said.
The Red Cross is deploying a team to help assist where needed and help with evacuations.
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A community information centre to help with displaced people has been set up in the Hokitika iSite, on the corner of Weld Street and Railway Terrace, Hokitika from 8.30 am.
People needing welfare assistance are asked to contact 0800 474 834, Westland District Council said.
Properties were flooded in Haast last night after minor breaches to the Hapuka and Okuru rivers. Seven people were evacuated from properties in Waiatoto. A welfare centre at Haast has opened.
In Hokitika at least two homes have been flooded above floor level.
Westland Milk, which has its main dairy factory in this part of Hokitika has also experienced some flooding.
The Haast and Franz Josef rivers are now under alarm levels, Westland civil defence controller Simon Bastion said.
About 450 tourists were in Franz Josef last night and should be able to leave there today.
Roads, transport and travel
SH73 from Arthur's Pass through to Jacksons and Otira to Kumara Junction is closed, with a slip at Candys Creek and flooding elsewhere.
SH6 Franz Josef to Fox Glacier is closed as the Waiho Bridge has been washed away.
Local roads closed:
- SH6 Hokitika to Franz - open one lane in places
- SH6 Franz to Fox - closed - situation update 9.00am 28 March
- SH6 Fox to Haast - open one lane in places
- SH6 Haast to Makarora - open one lane in places
- SH73 Otira to Jacksons - closed
- SH73 Jacksons to Kumara - open one lane in places
- SH6 Coast road is now open
Ritchies Bus Services has suspended all services for the whole of the West Coast today.
A heavy rain warning is still in force for Buller, and strong winds are forecast for Wellington and Wairarapa, MetService said.
See MetService weather warning here
Rainfall on the West Coast in the last two days has set a nationwide record since measurements began 40 years ago.
And more than a metre fell at the Hotikika catchment of the Cropp River in the 48 hours to 8am this morning, beating the previous record by 40mm, which was set in December 1995.
At the highest altitudes, rainfall exceeded 1m, nearly the total average annual rainfall in Auckland, Niwa said.
Rainfall numbers up to about 8.30am:
- Cropp River: 1096mm
- Mueller Hut: 683.6mm
- Ivory Glacier: 636mm
- Haast River 578.5mm
- Mt Cook: 533.3mm
- Mt Philistine: 489mm
Power, communication cuts
Some power disruptions at Haast and inland from Hokitika are ongoing. Transpower are aware of these and are working to restore power as soon as possible, Civil Defence said.
Fibre and phone lines south of Franz Josef have been severely disrupted. Chorus have advised they are working to restore vital communications, it said.
Schools, community services
Franz Josef and Haast schools are closed today.
McLeans Pit Landfill & Recycling Centre near Greymouth is closed today until further notice due to surface flooding on the road.