Raw video: Work colleagues take dramatic drive on flooded Napier-Taupo highway before it shut as torrential rain batters Hawke's Bay

Surface flooding has forced the closure of the Napier-Taupo Rd - State Highway 5 - as heavy rain batters Hawke's Bay.

Marthinus Swart and a work colleague were travelling to Napier from Tauranga this morning and told 1 NEWS theirs was one the last vehicles allowed to drive on SH5 before it was closed.

Footage Mr Swart shared with 1 NEWS of the journey shows surface flooding and debris on the road as well as significant flooding just off the road.

NZTA said a potential detour route was available via Palmerston North, which would add about four to five hours to the journey. 

"A second but longer detour is to go north from Taupo on SH5 to Rotorua, take SH30 and Sh2 to Gisborne and on to Napier," they said in a statement.

Local Josh Pye says he's never seen the river as high in more than a decade of being there. Source: 1 NEWS

Hawke's Bay Regional Council reported 291mm of rain fall today at their Gelngarry site - a one-in-20-year event. 

Civil Defence said this morning that the Esk River is at "high levels and rising", and warned that properties nearby need to remain vigilant throughout the day.

You can stay-up-to-date with the latest here.

Senior Station Officer Mark McGill says the flooding in Rissington can't be fought back – and the forecast is for more rain. Source: 1 NEWS

Marthinus Swart was one of the last drivers allowed on the SH5 this morning before it closed due to surface flooding. Source: Supplied