A civil defence response has been activated in Dunedin after torrential rain caused widespread flooding.
A Dunedin City Council spokesman said emergency services were now working together out of the civil defence bunker in central Dunedin, to coordinate their response to multiple flooding events across the city, and as the city prepare for high tide at 4.30pm.
Foul sewer contamination has forced the closure of the Hargest Crescent area in the suburb of St Clair. The Dunedin City Council said this could become an issue for other areas.
Sand-bagging has started in Mosgiel and South Dunedin and schools are sending children home as torrential rain, which has caused bad flooding, continues to pound coastal Otago.
Almost 70mm of rain fell in Dunedin in the 24 hours to 11.50am, and firefighters from St Kilda, Willowbank, Brighton and Roslyn are tackling floods in South Dunedin, Ocean View and Caversham.
There are reports of heavy surface flooding in Kaikorai Valley and Forbury.
Roads have been closed and sand bags are being used to protect properties in South Dunedin and Mosgiel.
NZTA is asking people to avoid travelling on the Southern Motorway beween Mosgiel andthe central city.
Bus service are running, but avoiding flooded streets.
Traffic is being diverted through Green Island becaue of flooding on the highway. Motorist Janelle Shaw, stuck in a traffic on the Old Main Rd near the intersection of State Highway 1 at Abbotsford, said cars were backed up for about 2km from the south, and are barely moving.
The Kaikorai Stream is running at full capacity and Kaikorai Valley Rd, south of the Stone St roundabout, is flooded.
Parents are being called and asked to collect their children from St Clair School. East Taieri School and St Peter Chanel School have been evacuated.
Police are being mobilised to help with road detours.
Dunedin City Council civil defence manager Neil Brown says civil defence has not yet been involved with evacuating any homes or residents.
Water was already knee deep in Broughton Street and parts of Hillside Rd by 11.30am, and a Delta spokesperson said black cable boxes outside some premises were in danger of exploding if the rain continued.
Flashes coming from the boxes indicated it was unsafe to be standing near them, the spokesperson said.
McKeown Chemicals in South Dunedin was ankle deep in water when the ODT visited at 11am.
Water was flooding onto the footpath on parts of Hillside and Macandrew Rds and Princes St, while water was gushing from one driveway on a Forbury Rd property.
Water had not yet seeped into surrounding businesses including Pizza Hut, Dowson's Shoes and Pak'n Save, although shop owners said they were concerned it would.
A Pizza Hut worker said the premises had flooded before and was in danger of flooding again. She had walked to work in knee deep water, she said.
Kaikorai Valley Rd is blocked by water at the southern end, where it meets SH1.
The Clutha District Council has warned of surface flooding in the district, particularly in the Milton area.
Motorists are being asked to take extra care on the roads.
The Met Service has issued a severe weather warning for Otago, which includes persistent rain about Clutha and Dunedin today, where accumulations may reach 80-100mm.
It is also warning of heavy snow in the Otago ranges with rain expected to turn to snow above 1000m this afternoon, then lower to 500m in the evening.
Twenty to 30cm of snow is expected to accumulate above 1000 metres from about 1pm today until 6am Thursday, with about 5 to 10cm accumulating above 500m tonight.
People have taken to social media to share their images of the flooding.