A state of emergency has been declared for Queenstown after landslides and heavy floodwaters threatened homes.
Mayor Glyn Lewers made the declaration at 6.33am today. It will initially last for seven days.
It follows a state of emergency being declared across Southland yesterday as the region was battered by severe weather.
Up to 20 homes had been evacuated in Queenstown and more than 100 people had sought refuge overnight at the evacuation centre, Lewers told the AM Show this morning.
Debris had flowed down Brecon St towards the town centre, causing damage and requiring evacuations from multiple properties and had also required evacuations from properties on Reavers Lane, Fryer St and Hamilton Rd.
Sixty eight people have been evacuated from the Brecon Street area and 41 have been evacuated from the Reavers Lane area.
Debris had flowed into central areas and caused damage. Rain was expected to keep falling, to be replaced by snow after lunch.
Mr Lewers said forestry slash was responsible for the damage that had led to the state of emergency being declared.
Power was still on and the debris flow was well away from the water treatment plant.
Mr Lewers said schools around the CBD would be closed today and the centrally-located medical centre was not able to be accessed at the moment.
He said the rain set in at midnight and intensified in the early hours. It had since eased but was still falling.
Multiple roads were now closed throughout the Queenstown Town Centre and around the district.
Queenstown Primary School, Whakatipu Kindergarten, other creche and Best Start Preschool would be closed today.
There was currently no access to the Queenstown Medical Centre. Contractors were also responding to a sewerage overflow at the Frankton Track.
The track was currently closed and people told to avoid the area.
It’s the latest water blow for New Zealand’s adventure capital and tourist mecca, with news this week of an outbreak of cryptosporidium and confirmation Queenstown’s main water supply had no filter protecting it from the protozoan parasite.
Locals and tourists could face months of having to boil water until treatment plants are upgraded with barriers against cryptosporidium, the mayor has said.
People were asked to avoid travel through or around the town centre or take extreme care if it was unavoidable.
Fire and Emergency staff were called to a home in Fernhill after reports a landslide was threatening a house at 7.51pm. Upon arrival, it was found the residents had already evacuated and there was extensive flooding around the home.
Nearby, Fire and Emergency crews were called to a landslide behind a property in Reavers Lane, Queenstown at 7.33pm. The occupants of four homes self-evacuated on advice from the crews.
Another crew was sent to Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd at 7.13pm after a landslide fell, trapping a car. One person was rescued and was uninjured.
In Glenorchy, significant rainfall meant the Glenorchy lagoon overtopped and looked to be impacting low-lying areas in the township.
People have been are advised to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary and to be prepared for unexpected hazards.
Southland state of emergency
Southland also remains in a region-wide state of emergency.
The failure of a water treatment plant at Tuatapere, near Invercargill, has left the remote town with eight hours’ drinking water.
Roads in the district have been closed due to flooding, including SH6 from Parawa to Kingston and SH1 from Gore to Mataura.
Schools and kindergartens throughout Southland were likely to be closed today, Emergency Management Southland said.
Powernet reported widespread electricity outages across Southland and said it hoped to restore power by 10pm last night to most customers.
The Gore District Council said flooding had been threatening homes, but did not believe there was a threat to people.
In a statement, Southland Civil Defence Emergency Management said the state of emergency declaration was made in order to ensure it was able to quickly respond to areas of concern following the heavy rainfall that impacted much of the region.
People were urged avoid contact with the flood water as wastewater and stormwater systems towns struggled to cope with the volume of water. Staying at home and off the roads was also advised.
A state of emergency was declared in Gore earlier in the afternoon.
No evacuations had taken place, the Gore District Council said.
For flood-affected residents, community emergency hubs have been set up at the Croydon Lodge, Gore and the Mataura Community Centre.
Numerous roads throughout the district were either closed or significantly affected by surface flooding, the council said.
The council put out a call for help filling sandbags in Gore and about 50 tonnes of sand had been used by volunteers to fill them.
Police rescued two people from a car stuck in floodwater on the Gore-Mataura highway, between Jubilee Ave and Given Rd.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand said last night the council had had dozens of callouts to surface flooding on roads, flooded houses and garages and blocked drains in Invercargill, Gore, Winton, Mataura and surrounding areas.
Fenz staff were called to a home in Fernhill after reports a slip was threatening a house at 7.51pm. Upon arrival, it was found the residents had already evacuated and there was extensive flooding around the home.
Another crew was sent to Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd at 7.13pm after a slip trapped a car. One person was rescued and was uninjured.
River peaks were expected to occur overnight and into this morning. It would take time for the surface water to recede, Civil Defence said.
Power outages also affected hundreds of customers across Central Otago yesterday, including in Wanaka, Alexandra, Cromwell, Roxburgh and the Queensberry-Luggate area.
By 8.30pm the Aurora Energy website showed power had been restored to all areas.
About 4.30pm the Clutha District Council advised of road surface flooding in the Catlins and Clinton-Waipahi areas.
A CDC spokeswoman said many stormwater structures were at or close to capacity, resulting in water backing up on roads.
Speaking on the campaign trail in Napier earlier, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he was aware of the flooding in the South and that the National Emergency Management Agency would be providing further updates.
Yesterday morning, a general flood warning was issued by the Southland District Council.
"Our contractors are getting to as many callouts as they can, but the surface flooding is widespread and they are unlikely to be able to respond to every report immediately," SDC spokesman Chris Chilton said.
In Central Otago, it was the wind doing most of the damage.
Alexandra Blossom Festival event manager Martin McPherson said organisers were watching the weather closely.
A call would be made on the running of the Mardi Gras this afternoon and the festival tomorrow morning, he said.
"We’ve got fingers and toes crossed that the weather doesn’t let us down," he said.
At least six roads were closed because of fallen trees, including SH6 at Mount Pisa Rd near Luggate, and the Central Otago District Council is warning of windblown debris making driving hazardous.
Lowburn Valley Rd, Swann Rd, Antrim St in Cromwell, Kelliher Lane and Burn Cottage Rd were all closed but reopened about 2.30pm.
Further north near Makarora, Muddy Creek has flooded on to State Highway 6, covering the road in earth and debris.
Frances Adank of Waka Kotahi said the road between Makarora and Haast was closed and it could take hours to clear. — Additional reporting RNZ