Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have been warned to stay at home with more dangerous weather on the way after horrific flooding devastated Auckland.
Three lives have been claimed by the floods, two in Wairau Valley and one in Remuera, following torrential rain on Friday.
Authorities admitted the death toll could soon rise and the New Zealand meteorology centre Met Service warned more severe rain is on the way on Sunday.
‘Our team are tracking a number for intense thunderstorms to the east of Auckland,’ it tweeted Saturday night.
‘We may issue a red thunderstorm warning for localised areas if they are intense.’
In light of the forecast for Sunday, Auckland officials have urged residents to stay home and minimise travel.
Photos show hundreds of residents have been displaced across the city with the rain set to continue through to the end of the week (pictured, residents in floodwater)
Aucklanders have been urged to stay home if they’re safe to do so with more rain set to hit the flood-stricken city on Sunday (pictured, the rain radar for Auckland on Saturday night)
Major roads have been blocked by the devastating floods, causing long traffic queues on highways (above)
The widespread flooding across Auckland has taken three lives with authorities warning that number could soon rise (pictured, a flooded Auckland worksite)
‘This has been an incredibly challenging 24 hours for our communities and recovery will take some time,’ says Auckland Emergency Management duty controller Rachel Kelleher.
‘We want people to keep themselves safe, keep an eye on upcoming weather reports and to stay home if it is safe to do so.’
Kelleher also urged people to stay home overnight and to avoid any unnecessary travel.
Residents across the city have been evacuated, with severe damage to homes and buildings.
Auckland recorded its wettest ever day on Friday with more than 150mm of rain falling in just three hours.
The sudden deluge saw Auckland’s Mayor Wayne Brown declare a state of emergency on Friday night due to the extent of the ‘damage, displacement and disruption’ caused by the weather.
Elton John’s concert in the city, which was expected to by attended by about 40,000 people, was cancelled on Friday due to the floods.
Major roads have also been blocked by the floods, causing long traffic queues on highways.
The wet weather is set to hang over the city for the rest of the week but the heaviest rain is expected to fall further south.
Three people are dead and several are missing as a record amount of rain, wild floods and landslides battered Auckland
Floods have caused extensive damage to major infrastructure around Auckland (pictured, a damaged road)
The Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupō have all been placed under severe thunderstorm watch with localised falls up to 40mm per hour forecast.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins issued a plea on Saturday for all residents who are safe to stay home to do so.
‘The levels of devastation in some areas is considerable,’ the PM said, 1News reports.
‘Our priority is to ensure that Aucklanders are safe, that they are housed and that they have access to the essential services that they need.
‘The loss of life underscores just the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic.’
Mr Hipkins also told Aucklanders to refrain from ‘panic buying’ with many supermarkets still open around the city, saying ‘there is no need’.
Travellers have been left stranded at Auckland international and domestic airports as floodwater rises (pictured Friday night)
A state of emergency was declared in Auckland on Friday due to devastating floods fuelled by torrential rain (pictured, an emergency worker and residents wade in through flood in Auckland)
Fire and Emergency crews have responded to 719 weather related-calls between Friday morning and 7.30am on Saturday, Nine News reports.
Those calls include 126 rescues for people trapped in cars or houses, 84 ‘priority one’ incidents where people were at high risk and 237 ‘priority two’ incidents where people were at a possible risk.
A total of 2,242 calls were put through to the Fire and Emergency Communications Centre staff.
Photos and footage online shows hundreds of residents have been displaced around the city – though the actual number has not yet been determined.
Images show significant damage to homes, cars and major infrastructure around Auckland with people fleeing their submerged homes.
Fortunately, international flights are set to resume Sunday morning with departures to leave at about 5am and the airport accepting arrivals from 7am.
Both the international and domestic airports were suddenly closed on Friday night after flood water inundated check-in areas and terminals.
New Zealand meteorology centre Met Service said 154mm of rain fell over the airport (above) between 9am and 8pm on Friday – the 12-hour record for the area is 161.8mm
Auckland Emergency Management Andrew Clark anyone without a safe place to evacuate or in need of assistance to head to the Civil Defence Centre that’s been set up in Kelston (pictured, residents in floodwater)
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins issued a plea on Saturday for all residents who are safe to stay home to do so (pictured, residents on a flooded Auckland street)
International flights will resume Sunday morning after flooding closed the domestic and international airports (pictured, airport on Friday night)
Domestic flights began operating again on Saturday.
However, the continued delay means stranded internationals travellers are facing another night trapped in the flooded airport.
‘We know this is extremely frustrating but the safety of passengers is our top priority,’ Auckland Airport tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
Sydney man Mark Andrews – who was due to fly home at 6.15pm on Friday – said about 1,000 displaced passengers left to sleep on the airport floor.
To make matters worse, Mr Andrews said blankets weren’t handed out until 5am on Saturday with people unable to leave due to customer regulations on top of the floods.
‘A lot of people were cold,’ he told Nine, describing the airport as a ‘zomebieland’.