Cars stranded near the Maitai River.
© Tim Cuff
Cars stranded near the Maitai River.
A state of emergency has been declared in Nelson as residents have been told to evacuate their homes immediately after the Maitai River breached its banks.

Some 223 homes in Nelson have already been evacuated.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said the river, which runs through the city and out to Tasman Bay, breached its banks as heavy rain continues to sweep across the South Island.

Flood waters are encroaching on the city centre, a video from the Collingwood St bridge shows, while search and rescue teams are now looking for people who need help in the flooded streets and suburbs.


Photos tonight from a Herald photographer in the city show flood waters are just below street level on the Bridge St bridge near central Nelson.

Flood waters are rising in central Nelson. Pictured is the Bridge St bridge and swollen Maitai River.
© George Heard
Flood waters are rising in central Nelson. Pictured is the Bridge St bridge and swollen Maitai River.
Reese called it a one-in-100-year weather event.

Nelson Tasman Civil Defence is urging anyone who lives near the river from the Nile St Bridge to the Waahi Taakaro Golf Club to evacuate.

"Stay with friends and family if you are able," the advice read. "If you have no safe place to go, head to the Saxton Stadium. Take pets, essential medications and warm clothing."

One elderly couple had to be rescued by Landsar from their residence on the Riverside. Rescue crews had to use a dinghy in order to reach the couple.

One elderly couple had to be rescued by Landsar from the residence on the Riverside.
© George Heard
One elderly couple had to be rescued by Landsar from the residence on the Riverside.
People are also advised to avoid bridges and rivers. Some parts of the Nelson region, including the Marsden Valley area, have been without power, Network Tasman said in a notice.

Tasman District Police are advising motorists to limit their travel to essential travel only, as the current severe weather event has closed several roads in the region, with more closures likely.

Reese said there are preparations under way to look after people who need to leave their homes and there will be trained people on hand to offer support.

"If people have no safe place to go, they should head to the Saxton Stadium where they will be able to gain assistance."

NZ Defence Force personnel will be patrolling the evacuated areas overnight to keep an eye on properties.

Wastewater treatment is under pressure and residents are urged to take care around floodwaters and not let children play in it because the water could be contaminated and cause illness.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor is due to arrive in Nelson tomorrow and Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty is expected to be in the region on Friday, 1News reports.

(Read more here)