Rains ease in New Zealand but more forced from homes

STORY: The South Island city of Nelson has been the worst affected, with hundreds of homes evacuated over the week, and some rendered uninhabitable. Towns in the North Island have also been cut off, as floods submerged roads and homes.

"Things going forward look quite different from this past week," the Metservice weather forecaster said in a Twitter post. "Most of the rainfall activity is still mainly in the west, but with much lower accumulations."

Earlier, it had said warnings and watch alerts were lifted after rain eased in northern and central areas.

Nelson saw more evacuations on Saturday, said Kieran McAnulty, the emergency management minister, who thanked those assisting in the rescue effort but added that the area's recovery would be a "long and difficult" process.

"States of emergency remain ... in Nelson-Tasman, Marlborough and West Coast," he said on Twitter.

There were about 100 new evacuations overnight, the New Zealand Herald said.

In the Tasman district neighbouring Nelson, a total of 508 homes had been evacuated, emergency authorities said, and the figure could grow.

"That looks set to increase even more," Nelson Tasman civil defence officials said on Facebook.

The overnight rains had widened the inundations to the Cannan-Upper Takaka area and the Richmond ranges, they added.

A warning stays for heavy rain in Fiordland on the South Island, Metservice said on its website.