'This water shouldn't have been here'

6:40 pm on 23 July 2017

About 130 properties around Dunedin remain evacuated after the weekend's heavy rain, and some will not be able to return home for several days.

An aerial photo shows flooding in Otago after the July storm on 20-23 July 2017. Outlying and rural areas of Dunedin are among those affected.

Outram resident Craig Miller's house can be seen on the right, with a white caravan parked out front. Photo: Otago Regional Council

States of emergency remain in place for Dunedin, Waitaki, Christchurch and Selwyn though in all locations floodwaters are receding.

Follow our LIVE updates on the flooding here and check our summary of essential information.

Dunedin Civil Defence Controller Sue Bidrose said most of the evacuated homes were in the Henley and Taieri areas. Residents of all but two of the 100 properties evacuated in lower Outram were now able to return home.

Those living in all but one of the 12 properties evacuated due to a landslip on Ravenswood Street, St Clair could also return home.

Outram resident Craig Miller, who lives in a new subdivision in the town, was among those hoping to return home today. He was expecting heavy rain on Friday night but not on this scale, he said.

Craig Miller stands next to the flooding at a Dunedin subdivision.

Craig Miller Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Mr Miller estimated the water reached 20cm up the outside of his house

"This water shouldn't have been here, it shouldn't have happened but it did," he said, adding that the nearby culvert didn't appear to be big enough to take this amount of rain. "I don't know if the culvert is blocked or what."

Mr Miller's neighbours were due to move into their newly built house in two weeks' time, but their house now had water right through it.

"The carpet was meant to be going down on Monday. It won't be going down now."

The flooding in the area in 1980 was worse "but this is bad", he said.

He joked that his front yard had a small pond, which was now much much bigger.

"We've got our resident duck cruising around... he's got a bigger playground at the moment."

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull said earlier that many residents in the nearby township of Henley could be waiting for days before they could get home. About 60 houses were without power in Henley and Leith Valley, he said.

He said the Taieri River was still very high and he didn't expect it to come down much today, because water was still pouring off the hills.

Major landslips

Dunedin Civil Defence's Sue Bidrose said a priority today would be clearing landslips on main arterial roads.

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The slip on Harington Point Road has effectively cut off residents north of Harwood. Photo: Twitter / @DnEmergency

State Highway 88 from Maia to Roseneath has now reopened after it was earlier closed due a large slip on the road.

A collision between a truck and a car on Portobello Road near Macandrew Bay this morning temporarily closed that road again, but it is now fully open. Work to clear a major slip on Harington Point Road, just past the turnoff to Harwood, has also been completed.

The organisation said earlier there were about 25 other slips on roads across the city, many of them on the Otago Peninsula.

Mr Cull said the weather was freezing, with black ice on many city streets, and council officers had been out laying grit.

The Waitaki District Council said it was working to clear a number of slips in the area, including one blocking a railway line.

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher said clean-up jobs were kicking off and people needed to be careful to stay clean because floodwaters might contain sewage. One of the biggest problems for the district had been slips, he said.

A group of locals relaxes in a flooded backyard along the Taieri Gorge Railway.

A group of locals takes a breather in a flooded backyard in Outram. Photo: Facebook / Cameron Renata

Scottish soldiers help with rescue efforts

Meanwhile, a group of Scottish soldiers has been helping with emergency work in Mosgiel.

The eight Highlanders from the 4th Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland were in New Zealand to take part in a long-distance race, which was cancelled. So instead they helped out with evacuations and checking on locals affected by the flooding.

Their commander, Captain Matthew Rupasinha, said some people were surprised to see them knocking on their doors - and hear their accents.

"Some of the residents were initially taken aback, but we were received very warmly overall."

He said the water was chest-deep at Mill Creek, near the Taieri River, which was the worst affected area his soldiers saw.

Captain Rupasinha said the soldiers were now back in Dunedin.

Flooding at Dunedin Airport.

Flooding near Dunedin Airport on Saturday: Many of the city's streets were left covered in black ice by the rain and cold weather. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Flooding at Dunedin subdvision.

Outram, pictured, was among the areas hardest-hit. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Flooding at Dunedin subdvision.

Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer