5-year-old escapes flooded home in kayak

9:47 am on 9 March 2017

A 5-year-old Coromandel girl kayaked out of her flooded kitchen yesterday after her father woke to find knee-deep water in the house.

Flooding in Neil Lamb's Coromandel home.

Flooding inside - and outside - Neil Lamb's Coromandel home. Photo: Supplied / Neil Lamb

Neil and Tilley Lamb live in Hikuai at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula, which had more than 200mm of rain in the 36 hours.

Mr Lamb woke to the "deafening" noise of the deluge about 5am.

It was pitch black, so he did not realise his home was flooded - until he put his hand down and felt water a few centimetres below his mattress.

"I stood up out of my bed in knee-deep water... waded over and turned the light on and couldn't believe what I was seeing. Things were floating around ... it was crazy," he said.

Flooding in Neil Lamb's Coromandel home

The outdoor kitchen got a bit damp too, Mr Lamb says. Photo: Supplied / Neil Lamb

The water outside was up to his thighs. He turned on an outside light.

"My whole land was a lake."

Waking up, Tilley "thought it was great because she was still dry", he said.

He grabbed "bits and pieces" just before firemen arrived to get them out.

He thought Tilley's kayak would have disappeared in the flood, but it floated in the door behind a fireman.

"I sat [Tilley] in the kayak, gave her the torch, put the bags on her... and the fireman started towing her out.

"We waded in deep water back to where the first response vehicle was waiting... That was a welcome sight."

Flooding in Neil Lamb's Coromandel home.

Neil Lamb's home and van were submerged by the floods. Photo: Supplied / Neil Lamb

Mr Lamb said Tilley took it "all in her stride".

"She's a tough little nut," he said.

This morning he was trying to "psyche" himself up to return to the property.

He would empty his shoes of water and expected clothes in drawers to be "soaking wet".

"The big problem will be trying to get things dry.. with the forecast [for more rain]... it's not going to be easy."

"No doubt today will be a tough day."

He lived off the grid, so had no insurance.

"I didn't think it was relevant for me, but I'm having a rethink about that now."

Mud in house inches deep

Whangamata 77-year-old Brian Simpson said he and his 85-year-old wife, Joyce, spent hours cleaning mud from the flooded ground floor of their house.

Whangamata was one of the areas hardest hit by the deluge in the Coromandel.

A large slip forced the evacuations of three homes along Park Avenue.

Simpson, who lives at the bottom of a hill on the avenue, said the mud on the ground floor was several inches deep.

It took them hours to clean up, he said.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs