State Highway 5 reopens between Napier and Taupo after major flooding, NZTA urges caution on the roads

The Napier-to-Taupo road, closed after heavy rain caused slips and flooding, has reopened.

However, people should take extra care on the road, part of State Highway 5, and delays can be expected, with some sections down to one lane, the NZ Transport Agency says.

Most other state highways are also open.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence says rain is expected to continue overnight and it is monitoring the situation, but the risk of flooding is easing.

It says those residents who have self-evacuated from their homes may return if safe to do so.

However, the situation could change so those in affected area should continue to be prepared to leave, if necessary.

Among those who had evacuated were campers from Eskdale Holiday Park and students from Hukarere Girls College.

There were also evacuations in Patoka, about 40km inland from Napier.

Re-live 1 NEWS NOWS' live updates from the wild weather which caused flooding in the Hawke's Bay region today.

4.45pm: Latest road update from the Central Hawke's Bay Council:

All roads are open - currently there are no closed roads in CHB

Blackhead Beach Campground Ford - now only accessible by 4wd
Flaxmill Bridge by Ugly Hill Rd – ponding - extreme caution advised

4.22pm: Relief is in site tomorrow as the low moves offshore.

4.08pm: Click here for the latest in-depth weather update from TVNZ Weather Presenter Dan Corbett.

3.47pm: Crikey indeed!

3.35pm: The torrential rain has left some stranded in the Ruapehu District, including a heavily pregnant woman. 

3.32pm: Latest update on the weather situation from the Hastings Distrcit Council:

The situation in Hawke's Bay has eased. River levels have dropped however 50 to 60mm of rain is expected to continue overnight, but spread over a longer period of time.

Residents who evacuated are advised that they can return home but those in the Esk River catchment area are asked to remain prepared to evacuate at short notice should the situation change

3.20pm: There was also some wild weather in Auckland last night, as Andre Morrison's slow-mo video shows!

3.10pm: Good news from the New Zealand Transport Authority.

3.05pm: The latest roading update from the Central Hawke's Bay District Council:

  • Wimbledon Road is now OPEN, south of our border
  • Outside CHB Rugby Park - Mitchell St - flooding
  • Minor slip - River Road covering part of one lane 
TVNZ weather presenter Dan Corbett with the latest update. Source: 1 NEWS

2.55pm: The latest update on the weather from 1 NEWS's Dan Corbett.

Latest rain radar for Hawke's Bay region.
Latest rain radar for Hawke's Bay region. Source: MetService

2.30pm: The latest rain radar image from the MetService for the Hawke's Bay region shows some relief for Napier, but rain moving into Whanganui and Palmerston North.

2.15pm: That's a massive amount of rain!

2pm: Click here for more on the small Hawke's Bay settlement of Rissington, which has been slammed by torrential rain, causing the local river to rise alarmingly.

1.50pm: In other weather related news, the MetService has just tweeted out an explanation of cyclonic winds.

A reminder more bad weather may be on the way, with Cyclone Hola possibly hitting the North Island late Sunday into Monday...

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

1.40pm:

1.35pm: Marthinus Swart sent 1 NEWS footage of a rather scary drive on State Highway 5 before it was shut by flooding.

1.25pm: "The Eskdale Holiday Park has been absolutely inundated," says 1 NEWS' Sean Hogan.

"A big clean up job ahead".

1.20pm: 1 NEWS' Sean Hogan is live from the scene on Facebook now.

1.18pm: Another rain warning update from the Napier City Council.

URGENT. Message to residents close to Esk River

The Esk River's still rising. Please stay safe out there, drive very, very slowly (if you have to be on the road)...

1.15pm: 

1pm: A warning from the Napier City Council: "Stay away from rivers and streams and please avoid already flooded areas. On roads, as little as 30cm of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you are driving, please be extra careful. The depth of water is not always obvious."

12.40pm: Josh Pye spoke to 1 NEWS' Sean Hogan from the settlement of Rissington. He said the nearby river is as high as he's seen it, having lived in the area for a decade. 

12.30pm: The Napier-Taupo road - State Highway 5 - is closed due to surface flooding, police say, as considerable rain batters Hawke's Bay.

Flooding just off State Highway 5 - the Napier-Taupo road - on March 8.
Flooding just off State Highway 5 - the Napier-Taupo road - on March 8. Source: NZTA

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

Surface flooding on State Highway 5 - the Napier-Taupo road - on March 8.
Surface flooding on State Highway 5 - the Napier-Taupo road - on March 8.

"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 release.

Hawkes Bay Regional Council reports 291mm of rain has fallen so far today at their Glengarry 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.

A graph showing the river level at the Waipunga Bridge sampling station on March 9 after very heavy rain.
A graph showing the river level at the Waipunga Bridge sampling station on March 9 after very heavy rain. Source: 1 NEWS

A measurement of the water level at Waipunga Bridge showed it peaked at more than 7m.

Some people have already decided to evacuate, including Hukarere Girls' College and Eskdale Camping Ground.

Glengarry Road, Mekahu Road and Waipunga Road are closed due to slips, Taihape Road is open but small slips have been reported.

Heays Access Road remain open, with some slips reported, and Seafield Road is closed due to a fallen tree.

For a full forecast for your region, see our weather page here.



'Angel' takes disabled friend on 'wacky' world adventures and is rewarded with $10,000

A young woman who has taken a teenager with cerebral palsy on adventures around the world, donated a kidney to an old school friend and helped many others has been rewarded with $10,000 for more adventures and to look after herself for a change.

Leah Stewart, who's 23, is the winner of this week's ASB Good as Gold award on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Donating an organ and helping others were on a bucket list Leah wrote when she was just 16, and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. 

Nineteen-year-old Alicia Kapa - Leah's best friend - and Mum Joanna Kapa have really appreciated Leah's help.

Joanna explained that Alicia wasn't breathing when she was born and has cerebral palsy as a result of that lack of oxygen. 

"She loves adventure and her and her best mate Leah have travelled around the world and done all sports of crazy, crazy things," Joanna said.

These have included a cruise in the Bahamas, adventures in New York and bungy jumping.

Joanna said it means a huge amount to her that Alicia is "getting out and doing stuff that everybody at her age should be able to do, that she's safe, she hasn't got her mother hanging around with her, which is a big thing".

Alicia agreed with that last point.

She's everything that you would think when you think of an angel - Joanna Kapa

Joanna said Leah is "everything that you would think when you think of an angel".

While Alicia declared: "Leah is an amazing friend to me."

Leah and Alicia's adventures have been documented in videos on their own YouTube channel called 'Wheely Wacky Adventures".

Reporter Sam Wallace surprised Leah in suburban Auckland telling her ASB want to give her $5000 for some more Wheely Wacky Adventures, and $5000 "for you to look after yourself because you never do it".

"That sounds amazing," said a stunned Leah as she hugged Alicia in her wheelchair out on the street, surrounded by friends.

Leah admitted she has helped "a few" people and said just over a year ago she donated her left kidney to a friend from high school and "thinks" she saved her life.

The win will help with a trip she and Alicia booked themselves next week because they were missing each other. 

"And the whole thing went on my credit card because I had no money in the bank. And I knew I had some big student loans coming up. I was planning on calling the IRD on Monday and sorting out one of them," Leah said.

This giving friend can relax a little now - until the next wacky adventure.

Leah Stewart wrote her list when she was 16 and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. Source: Seven Sharp


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Auckland boy who lost his dad to cancer thriving through programme helping young rugby players deal with big challenges

A programme in West Auckland is coaching rugby coaches to help young players develop life skills to deal with big challenges.

Jonesy's Youth Foundation was set up by Michael Jones - who shares his name with the legendary former All Black.

"The idea came to me through Massey Rugby Club. There was a boy who's mum got killed about 14 years ago, and for some reason it stuck with me all that time, 'what did the rugby club do to help him after the situation?'" Jones told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp. 

Through the foundation, men run courses for coaches of junior rugby players.

"What the courses will do is it'll teach the coach to be able to integrate rugby skills with character development and life skill development," Mr Jones said."

It's about developing the young players "as people first," he said.

Ben Allen - or 'Pies' as he's known coaches schoolboy rugby player Connor O'Donnell. Connor's Dad, Shaun, died four years ago from cancer.

Mr Allen said he teaches Connor, "things like communication and talking to his teammates and encouraging each other which are all important traits that you need in life".

"I'll never replace Shaun. He was an amazing Dad and and an amazing guy."

He's really good and he's helped me with confidence and things like that. - Junior rugby player Connor O'Donnell

Connor reckons 'Pies' is an amazing coach.

"He's really good and he's helped me with confidence and things like that."

Connor's Mum, Helen O'Donnell, said she promised his Dad before he died that she'd keep his love and passion for rugby going, but struggled with how she'd do that. She said Shaun would be "absolutely over the moon" that she's been able to keep that promise.  

The foundation has had some high-profile helping hands like former All Black Josh Kronfeld. 

Kronfeld said the coaches help the players with, "how to deal with pressure, how to deal with the bad moments, and loss, all those things".

Jonesy - who's also a Dad - says the foundation is there for for the long haul.

"We're here forever. We want to see him develop and grow [into] that 18 and 20-year-old when he gets a job."

Jonesy's Youth Foundation is having a Gala Dinner this Saturday. If you want tickets, the details are on Seven Sharp's Facebook page.


Jonesy's Youth Foundation is there for Connor O'Donnell, and others, in their time of need. Source: Seven Sharp

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'My god she can run' - woman at centre of hilarious Kawakawa dog escape video says Lily is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame

A Bay of Islands woman told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp she is "never going to live this down" after footage of her rescue dog Lily dragging a bakery's flag down the main street of Kawakawa went viral around the globe.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 500,000 times since it was posted to Facebook last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald

But the Basset Hound received a fright and bolted despite being tied to a large Coca-Cola flag forcing Lucie to give chase.

"For an animal with just little legs, my god she can run," Lucie told Seven Sharp.

Lily, Lucie and the rogue flag brought Kawakawa's State Highway 1 strip to a standstill, the whole escapade captured on CCTV.

"My partner owns a local CCTV company I got to the office and I told him what had happened.

"He didn't tell me he'd done it, but he edited footage and put the music on and uploaded it to Facebook and tagged me in it.

"I knew it was trouble when basically by the time we'd gone to bed last night it had hit 100,000 views," Lucie said.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

Lucie does see the funny side of events however.

"They say every dog has their day, so I guess Lily is enjoying her 15 mins of fame." 

Lily made a run for it when owner Lucie Green stopped at a shop in the Northland town. Source: Seven Sharp


Tracking down New Plymouth youth MP candidates after Andrew Little's 'hip' appeal

Labour MP Andrew Little released a tongue in cheek video encouraging young people from New Plymouth to get involved in politics today.

The video inspired TVNZ1's Seven Sharp to travel to Mr Little's old school to find the perfect candidate for its new youth MP.

Judge for yourself if New Plymouth Boys' High students Thomas Foy and Jarrod Wilson have what it takes in the video above.

Tamati Rimene-Sproat is on the case after the Labour MP's piece of political theatre. Source: Seven Sharp