Cyclone Fili: Flooding closes part of highway in Tairāwhiti

Source: 1News

Flooding has closed part of State Highway 35 in Tairāwhiti Gisborne as ex-tropical cyclone Fili batters the region.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency said about 15km of the highway is closed between Wharekahika/Hicks Bay and Te Araroa.

Both the Wairoa District and Gisborne are covered by a red heavy rain warning into late Wednesday and early Thursday.

MetService says residents can expect dangerous river conditions and significant flooding.

READ MORE: Tairāwhiti 'tired, but prepared' for Cyclone Fili - mayor

It warns communities could become isolated as slips and floodwaters make roads impassable. Power outages are likely.

Severe south to southwest gales are also forecast, which could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures.

The NZTA says there has also been surface flooding around Hiruharama Straight and north of Tokomaru Bay.

"With the worst of the weather expected later this afternoon and into the night, combined with high tide around 3pm, further road closures are likely," NZTA national journey manager Helen Harris said.

A swathe of weather watches and warnings are also in place for the rest of the North Island.