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MetService lifts Red Warning for heavy rain across much of flood-hit Canterbury

That concludes 1 NEWS' live coverage of the flooding in Canterbury today. Read below for a recap on what happened and to view videos of the weather event from throughout the day.  

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It will be a big clean up in the region once floodwaters receed. Source: 1 NEWS

8.50 pm: Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers President David Clark spoke to Seven Sharp about the situation in the region on Seven Sharp tonight, in this video:

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David Clark, President of Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers spoke with us. Source: Seven Sharp

8.31pm: MetService said with rain now eased to showers across much of the Canterbury region, the Red Warning for heavy rain has been lifted.

It said an Orange Warning for heavy rain remains in force for Canterbury about and north of Cheviot, and Marlborough about and south of Kaikoura until midnight tonight. 

Rain would ease to showers in this area, MetService said. 

It said any remaining showers through Canterbury and southern Marlborough should clear by early Tuesday afternoon.

No further rain is expected for the remainder of the week, MetService said, which will be good news to many. 

7.48pm: In a message to the Lake Tekapo Community page on Facebook, the Mackenzie District Council said part of the area's waste system had been compromised. 

To minimise pressure and avoid possible environmental damage, it asking residents to take the below steps:

  • keeping the number of times you flush the toilet to a minimum
  • taking a short shower instead of a bath
  • Postpone running washing machines and dishwashers

It said it would provide an update tomorrow morning.

7.23pm: Timaru's Emergency Operations Centre said following a period of calmer weather today, water levels in affected rivers have begun to slowly recede.

However, it is still recommending residents in low lying areas of the Coopers Creek catchment north of the Orari River remain evacuated until further notice. 

With receding floodwater likely to have caused major scouring and holes in roads, the EOC is advising people not to travel unless necessary. 

People should also stay away from flooded areas until the all-clear is given by Civil Defence. 

6.35pm: Christchurch City Council says high tide is between 9.15 and 9.30pm tonight.

"We would expect to see surface flooding to continue in areas where this is already happening. We don’t expect to see flooding in new areas overnight."

6.25pm: Waka Kotahi NZTA says State Highway 79 Fairlie to Orari Bridge is now open, but closures remain from the bridge to Rangitata.

5.50pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has landed in Christchurch and will be briefed by officials tonight.

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The Ashley and Eyre rivers threw the region into chaos. Source: 1 NEWS

Tomorrow she is expected to visit the worst affected areas.

5.35pm: NZ Post has suspended delivery and "acceptance operations" in all areas which have a state of emergency in place. 

This covers all regional towns and outlying centres around Christchurch, but does not include the Christchurch metropolitan area.

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1 NEWS’ Lisa Davies spent the day with some of those who’ve been hit the hardest. Source: 1 NEWS

A spokeswoman said it is unable to clear perishable product beyond the Otago area due to blocked roads.

It is continuing to operate transport services between Dunedin - Invercargill and Dunedin - Central Otago, but all other transport services operating south of Christchurch will be suspended. 

NZ Post said it expected a freight backlog, which continues to build in Christchurch, will take the rest of the week to clear.

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Farmers who previously battled drought are now wading through swampy paddocks. Source: 1 NEWS

5.25pm: Helicopter footage taken by 1 NEWS reveals the widespread flooding over the Canterbury region. Watch it in the video at the top of this article.

5.15pm: NIWA has released a graphic showing the huge amount of rainfall over Canterbury in the last two days.

4.45pm: Finally some good news on the weather front as the latest rain radar image shows the rainband beginning to break up.

4.35pm: The latest updates on Canterbury road closures from NZTA.

4.25pm: Canterbury DHB is asking all residents in the region to treat all flood water as contaminated and keep up to date on the safety of your drinking water.

"As flood waters have continued to rise in many areas throughout Canterbury, a number of drinking water supplies have been placed under boil water and/or conserve water notices," CDHB says.

"It’s important to follow this advice to protect your health."

For the latest updates on drinking water CDHB is advising people to ‘like’ your local District Council’s Facebook page, or check the latest news on their website.

4.05pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is travelling to Christchurch after her meeting with Australian PM Scott Morrison in Queenstown this afternoon.

Full video: Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison speak with media following bilateral talks

3.45pm: A gutted Ashburton farmer says over 20 years of work on his farm was "washed away overnight".

Gutted Ashburton farmer says over 20 years of work on farm 'washed away overnight'

3.30pm: The persistent rain has left some suburban streets in Halswell underwater. Pictures courtesy of Rebeccah Wright.

Flooding on suburban street in Halswell, Christchurch. Source: Rebeccah Wright

Flooding on suburban street in Halswell, Christchurch. Source: Rebeccah Wright

3.15pm: A bridge near Geraldine is under threat from a raging river as floodwaters rise in Canterbury.

Images captured by a 1 NEWS cameraman show the Orari Bridge being pounded mercilessly by an Orari River swollen from floodwaters.

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The bridge is under threat as floodwaters continue to rise. Source: 1 NEWS

2.45pm: Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown this afternoon said there is "a lot of damage" in the area and urged people not to leave their homes unless necessary.

"We're through the worst of it, but there's still a lot of water coming down," Brown said.

2.20pm: The NZ Defence Force continues to help evacuate people and assist in the fight against flood waters.

"The New Zealand Army has sent soldiers, trucks and an ambulance from Burnham Military Camp," NZDF said in a statement.

"There are also personnel in headquarters command and control roles, and liaison officers in Ashburton, Timaru, Waimakariri and Selwyn emergency operations centres.

"Overnight, teams assisted in the evacuation of more than 30 people in the hardest-hit areas in support of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, New Zealand Police and Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Crew aboard a RNZAF NH90 helicopter rescued three people from floods in the Ashburton area overnight. One man, who was in a tree surrounded by floodwater in the vicinity of Darfield, was rescued after he jumped from the tree and attempted to swim and was swept away.

"The crew scoured the water for about 30 minutes before locating the man and plucking him to safety. The crew also rescued an elderly couple from the roof of a car near Ashburton Forks.

"A second NH90 has been placed on standby to assist if required."

2.10pm: Dramatic images have been supplied to 1 NEWS of flooding and land slides in Rakaia Gorge. Click here for more on this story.

Flooding on Redcliffs Bridge, Rakaia Gorge. Source: Simon Werthmuller of Rakaia Helicopters.

1.40pm: Owners of the Waikuku Beach Holiday Park, Rex and Debbie Jefcoate, hug each other while standing in their now flooded property.

A number of caravans have been damaged.

Rex and Debbie Jefcoate, owners of the Waikuku Beach Holiday Park. Source: 1 NEWS

1.20pm: The latest rain radar image from MetService still shows a lot of rain to come for the Canterbury region.

Rain radar over Canterbury at 1:15pm, May 31. Source: MetService

1.10pm: The closure on SH75 Little River has been extended to cover Barrys Bay to Birdlings Flat, Waka Kotahi/NZTA said people should continue to avoid travel.

1.05pm: Timaru District Council Civil Defence have just sent out an emergency alert to residents in the Coopers Creek catchment north of the Orari River to evacuate immediately due to flooding.

Residents in low-lying areas are advised to leave now, if it is safe to do so, and move to higher ground and stay with family of friends.

As an alternative, evacuees can go to the Temuka Civil Defence Centre - Alpine Energy Stadium situated in the Temuka Domain, or the Geraldine Civil Defence Centre situated at Geraldine High School.

12.38pm: The closure on SH75 Little River has been extended to cover Barrys Bay to Birdlings Flat, Waka Kotahi New Zeland Transport Agency says. Motorists have been advised to continue to avoid travel.

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People who come into contact with the potentially contaminated water are advised to change out of wet clothes and to wash skin immediately. Source: 1 NEWS

12.21pm: The flood warning system has been activated in Southland.

According to Environment Southland:

The Mataura River at Cattle Flat was 1.24 metres above normal and rising 60 mm/hour
The Mataura River at Pyramid was 1.18 metres above normal and rising 67 mm/hour
The Waikaia River at Waikaia was 1.88 metres above normal and rising 65 mm/hour
The Waikaia River at Mahers beach was 1.72 metres above normal and rising 43 mm/hour
The Oreti River at Lumsden Cableway was 2.45 metres above normal and rising 119 mm/hour
The Irthing Stream at Ellis Road was 1.98 metres above normal and rising 82 mm/hour
The Pourakino River ds Ermedale Road was 2.84 metres above normal and rising 48 mm/hour
The Waiau River Te Waewae Lagoon was 1.64 metres above normal and falling 16 mm/hour

Data was not available at the time of broadcast for the following sites:

The Mataura River at Tuturau
The Otapiri Stream at Otapiri Gorge

For more information, phone 03 211 5010.

12.11pm: A map of road closures in Christchurch can be found here.

Roads that are currently closed due to flooding will remain closed until at least 9am tomorrow morning, the Christchurch City Council says.