Slips stall Rhythm and Vines traffic

A detour route is in place on State Highway 2 between Opotiki and Whakatane, much to the relief of holiday-makers and festival-goers who had been queuing for hours to return home.

The main access north is closed due to flooding and slips as thousands make their way home from Gisborne's Rhythm and Vines.

Over the three days, 29,000 people had attended the event.

Despite an earlier report that the road had reopened, it remains closed but with traffic management and diversions in place. The detour route is through the local Wainui Road.

Opotiki police had been waiting for tides to go out before looking at reopening parts of State Highway 2.

The bad weather has also caused a number of other problems.

This afternoon, two people ignored warnings and drove through flood waters and became stuck. They had to be rescued and were airlifted to Whakatane Hospital.

Bay of Plenty police helped rescue the pair from a partially submerged van in the Waimana River, which this morning burst its banks.

They managed to scramble to safety from their vehicle and were being treated for shock and hypothermia.

Whakatane Police believe it will be some time before the flooding abates and roads are clear again.

The river has also stranded a family in their Waimana Rd home, since 8am.

Fire crews are in the area, but are struggling to reach the mother and three children.

"They're safe but they can't go anywhere," shift commander Jaron Phillips said.

"We can't get to them, the water's too high."

Emergency services have had trouble accessing the rural town from Tauranga due to flooding and slips throughout the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel.

A car also went into a river on State Highway 29 at  the lower Kaimai Range near Tauranga at 12.20pm today.

The car drove through a barrier and into the river before a man got out. A woman in the car was rescued by stretcher.

And in Te Kao in the Far North, a car crashed off a bridge on State Highway One at 12.20pm.

The two adults and two children got out without injuries and made it to the nearby general store where they sought help.

Rivers were still rising with run-off from the hills and a high tide at 2pm contributed to severe flooding.

Auckland Now