Motorists are being urged to keep off roads in Bay of Plenty and Waikato tonight, with rain expected to keep falling in parts of the already drenched regions.
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MetService says heavy rain is forecast for Gisborne, Coromandel, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay through to tomorrow and weather warnings have been issued for some areas.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) said several major roads were closed, and slips were likely with the amount of rain falling.
"Motorists should consider avoiding travel tonight in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty if at all possible," NZTA acting state highway manager Karen Boyt said.
A weather front moving east could affect the eastern Bay of Plenty overnight, particularly the Waioeka George, Waimana Gorge and Wainui intersection.
"If drivers must travel we urge that they take extreme care on the highways, drive to the conditions, and allow more time for their journeys so that they can reach their destinations safely."
The Karangahake Gorge on State Highway 2 between Waihi and Paeroa is closed due to rising river levels through the gorge.
Boyt said motorists should avoid SH2 until flood waters receded, with Bay of Plenty motorists advised to use SH29 via Tauranga over the Kaimai Ranges, while Coromandel motorists should use SH25A between Kopu and Hikuai.
Also closed is SH26 at Te Aroha, and at Paeroa's Criterion Bridge after Waikato Regional Council closed floodgates because the Ohinemuri River was rising.
SH2 at the Athenree Gorge, near the northern end of Tauranga Harbour, was being reopened to one lane after being closed by a slip this afternoon, Boyt said.
The Tairua River at Hikuai on SH25 was being monitored as levels rose, as was the Waihou River on SH2 north of Paeroa.
High tide about 10pm was likely to affect the Uratara, Criterion and Hikuai bridges, which could be closed.
In Papamoa, on SH2 between Bruce Rd and the Domain Rd intersection, there was surface flooding and potholes had formed in areas resealed late last week.
Up to 200mm of rain has fallen in the past day in parts of the Coromandel Peninsula.
With the Ohinemuri River in the Karangahake Gorge already in flood, the Piako, Waihou and Waitoa rivers were expected to swell over coming days, Waikato Regional Council duty emergency management officer Greg Ryan said.
Further west, rain was expected to prolong flooding of the Waikato and Waipa rivers, which rose after heavy rains the weekend before last.
"People need to be aware of the potential for inundation of flood plains, surface flooding generally and for transport links to be disrupted," Ryan said.
"It looks as though we're in for a few very wet days on top of what has already been a very wet July, so risks will certainly be elevated this week."
A strong northeast airstream ahead of the front was expected to bring rain to much of the North Island.
Warnings were issued for the Coromandel Peninsula, western Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.
Up to 140mm of rain could fall in the 24 hours from this afternoon in parts of Gisborne, while in the Bay of Plenty west of Whakatane 120mm of rain may fall until tonight.
The MetService said heavy rain was also expected to affect the eastern Waikato, eastern Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay through to tomorrow.
Spokesman Daniel Corbett said the soggy start to the working week in many North Island places should ease to more showery conditions as the week progressed.
The far south of the South Island would stay mainly dry over the next few days, but eastern areas may see some patchy light rain by midweek. Inland areas could have typical frosty nights, and while some new snow could fall on central North Island fields from about midweek, there would be little or none for those further south.
Meanwhile, high winds on State Highway 57 between Shannon and Opiki Road are making driving conditions extremely dangerous, police said.
Large trees have been toppled, and the road surface is obstructed by branches and debris.
Motorists can check NZTA's freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or 0800 44 44 49, or its website www.highwayinfo.govt.nz for information on road conditions.
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