Two tornadoes ripped through the coastal town of Kaikoura early this morning, as the South Island was battered by fierce winds and torrential rain.
The roof was ripped off one Kaikoura house and blown into a neighbouring property.
Meanwhile, flooding caused slips and road closures across the region, leaving trampers trapped in the Milford Sound, and fierce wind gusts whipped through Canterbury, keeping firefighters busy.
The heavy rain caused rivers in Otago and Southland to rise, some almost breaching their banks.
In Southland, firefighters responded to eight homes threatened by flooding. Paddocks were soaked, although most farmers were able to move stock to higher ground in time.
Pukerau farmer Geoff Henderson says there’s more than a metre of water covering some areas.
“In the deepest parts it's over the front wheels of the tractor,” he says.
Across the main divide, wild weather lashed at the West Coast for the second time in two weeks.
Contractors continued to build up the banks of the recently repaired Wanganui River Bridge.
The approach to Whitestone River Bridge was washed out near Te Anau on State Highway 94 – one of three main South Island highways forced to close.
Ian Duncan, acting southern region director for the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), says some roads may stay closed for the remainder of the day.
“We can't guarantee we'll have [State Highways] 6 or 73 operational today, in terms of bringing access to the coast. We realise that is going to cause a disruption, but we will box on and work as hard as we can to get those open.”
More heavy rain is expected over the next five days and tourists are being warned to keep a close eye on the weather forecast and road conditions.
For the latest road and traffic information from NZTA, call the freephone infoline on 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49), or visit www.highwayinfo.govt.nz