Representatives of the Civil Defence announced a State of Emergency (SoE) in Southland's Fiordland region as of 13:45 (local time) on Monday, February 3, until Monday, February 10, after heavy rain caused significant flooding. Emergency officials said that 382 individuals were stranded but safe in Milford Sound, while local media outlets reported that another 27 tourists blocked on a severely flooded Hollyford Road will be airlifted on Monday. New Zealand Transport Agency said that roads in the area will likely be shut through the week.
The New Zealand MetService issued its first red weather warning (highest-level on a four-tier scale) on Monday for heavy and disruptive rain in Westland south of Hokitika and Fiordland north of George Sound. The MetService forecasts rainfall between 30-45 cm (12-19 in) to continue through Tuesday, February 4. It also warned of dangerous river conditions and significant flooding, which are likely to cause travel disruptions.
Associated flooding, landslides, transportation and business disruptions are expected, as well as disruptions to power and communication services, in the coming hours and days.
Individuals in the affected area are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions and flight status before setting out, anticipate transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult.