Flooding and slips on the east coast have closed several schools north of Gisborne.
More than 250 pupils at Ngati College in Ruatoria and a Te Kura in the township have been forced to stay at home.
Principal Pani Mclean says the roads are too treacherous for bus drivers to negotiate.
Schools at Te Araroa and Hicks Bay closed early Tuesday afternoon because of the danger of slips blocking roads.
Gisborne District Council says the Waiotu River south of Tokomaru Bay broke its banks early on Wednesday and temporarily closed State Highway 35 south of the township.