There is "no doubt" people have fled from Thames-Coromandel, the region's Civil Defence controller says, as it faces a fifth week of severe weather this year.
Coromandel Peninsula has a red heavy rain and strong wind warning in place until Tuesday morning due to Cyclone Gabrielle. MetService said the region could expect to see a further 250mm to 320mm of rain about the ranges on top of what has already fallen, and 100mm to 150mm about the coast.
Civil Defence's Garry Towler told Morning Report there are widespread power outages, small slips on roads, and tree falls.
"There's been surface flooding [on roads] but nothing major. We had high tide at 1am and that held, although there was some overtopping.
"We did at one stage have wind gusts in excess of 120km/h, which really stirred people up because when you get winds that strong, there's a really weird noise that goes with it."
#CycloneGabrielle continues to throw heavy rain, strong winds and massive waves our way.— MetService (@MetService) February 12, 2023
In the 12 hours to 7am:
93.3mm at Glenbervie Forest (near Whangārei)
160km/h Channel Island (Northern tip of Coromandel Peninsular)
11-12m waves along Northland east coast pic.twitter.com/0z2P8BbGhT
There are two emergency operation centres operating - one in Thames and another in Whitianga - with about 150 personnel, including from emergency service partners.
Towler said there had been five severe weather events in the area this year alone.
"We've been fully activated, in terms of emergency management, for five weeks, we had two days down. It's quite exceptional, there's no doubt about that.
"Everyone is holding up so far, it's really tough, they're very storm fatigued."
The consequences of that meant "there's no doubt" people had left the Coromandel entirely, he said.
"Our resident population on the Coromandel of around about 40,000 and I would guess from what we are hearing, and once again it's anecdotal, that probably that population is around about there or maybe a little bit less even from what it was and what it would normally be let's say on a normal Waitangi weekend, 200 or 300,000 people."
Early on as warnings were issued about the cyclone, those in low lying coastal areas of the Peninsula were warned they may need to self-evacuate. Towler said most that could go to friends and family from those at-risk areas had already done so, and they would be focusing on those remaining on Monday.
"We really encourage that because it's much better people are in the comfort of family and friends, than sitting in a cold hall with their own blankets and stuff. Because we can't provide motel-like accommodation for these people."
The Peninsula's east coast was seeing coastal surge and surface flooding, while on the west coast there is concerns for debris and land instability.
"This is where sections that are on hillsides, which we have many, have cracked and they've got large cracks going through the backs of their sections and so forth," Towler said.
"With our partners, Waikato Regional Council and GNS Science, we've got some really good intel on where this likely to happen and it's quite frightening."
Civil Defence was planning for more impacts on Monday night and heading into Tuesday, he said.