About 6000 people are still trapped in Golden Bay as rain caused slips, and the Takaka River, flowing at 980 cubic metres per second, flooded onto pastures.
Flooding north of Motueka Photo: RNZ / Logan Church
Dairy farmer Corrigan Sowman said 100ha of his farm flooded last night, and he could not believe how quickly the river came up.
"It was literally like a wall of water, we were looking at the river at 80 cubic metres at about 4pm thinking it was amazing that we'd dodged the bullet ... an hour and a half later it was 600 cubic metres, and it just kept going up to 900 from there."
Fonterra is planning to send in a barge in to pick up product from its Takaka factory.
Fonterra's upper South Island operations manager, Chris Win, said they need to get a route out to Nelson as soon as possible to avoid wasting milk.
The Taranaki, Nelson Tasman and Selwyn councils still have a state of emergency in place to deal with widespread flooding and disruption.
More than 120 schools and 70 early learning centres remain closed in Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast, Otago and Waikato.
Fire and Emergency said almost 500 people made emergency calls yesterday and through the night.
MetService said the very worst of the weather was likely over, and conditions were expected to ease as Gita moves away today.
However a heavy rain warning remains in place for Dunedin and North Otago.
MetService meteorologist Claire Flynn said Gita still had a sting in its tail for those in the deep south where 30 to 50 millimetres of rain could fall until 6pm.
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