Watch: Breathtaking drone footage shows Napier holiday park's 'muddy mess' after flooded river rose by 7m in one-in-50-year event

The owners of a holiday park in Eskdale near Napier are in clean-up mode today after the river there flooded by about 7m yesterday - nearly 30 years to the day after Cyclone Bola did the same thing.

Parts of Hawke's Bay received a huge volume of rain yesterday, with 303.5mm registered at the Glengarry sampling station.

Graphics showing the river level measurements of the Esk River at the Waipunga Bridge on March 8, 2018 - a peak of about 7m.
Graphics showing the river level measurements of the Esk River at the Waipunga Bridge on March 8, 2018 - a peak of about 7m. Source: Hawke's Bay Regional Council/1 NEWS composite

The Eskdale River began rising about 3am, Hawke's Bay Regional Council sampling shows, and by just after 9am it had risen about 7m - a one-in-50-year event.

Eskdale Holiday Park owner Ashlee Gale said she and her husband could only watch out the window as the river rose and rose, and finally made the call to evacuate the guests and themselves.

"We did what we could, got everybody out ... everybody was co-operative and all got out in a timely fashion - I think they saw it all coming as well," Ms Gale said.

"I think we got away fairly well - there's two small flats on the property that got quite a bit of water through them, they have to be gutted, but apart from that most of our accommodation is caravans, so we were able to tow them off site."

Jo and Owen Bell say there were families living at the Eskdale Caravan Park whose belongings were washed away by the Esk River yesterday. Source: 1 NEWS

Photographer Tim Whittaker took advantage of a short break in the rain to launch a drone and survey the damage from the air.

Ms Gale said she has never seen the river rise that quickly - but her parents had seen similar almost 30 years ago to the day.

"My parents bought the place in the November before Cyclone Bola, and they went through all of this in Cyclone Bola and it hasn't happen since," she said.

Cyclone Bola heavily damaged many parts of the North Island on March 7, 1988.

Ms Gale said they had received many offers of support and help cleaning up the "muddy mess", and she said it was "very lucky" that her property wasn't damaged further.

"We're doing what we can to get through."

Eskdale Holiday Park's owners say they were lucky, and that all of the guests on site at the time were happy to get out of there as the water rose.