Rescue efforts, evacuations underway at Muriwai

Publish Date : 14 Feb 2023
Scenic Drive Slip (1)
Photo: Bryan Lowe

Emergency responders and the New Zealand Defence Force are at Muriwai helping evacuate residents who have been sheltering in the Muriwai Surf Club following landslips and flooding across Auckland’s west coast.  

“It has been an incredibly tough night for communities across Tāmaki Makaurau, especially Muriwai. Our thoughts are with the whānau and the colleagues of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand crew directly involved in responding to the major incident on Motutara Road,” says Deputy Controller Rachel Kelleher. 

A house collapsed at around 10pm last night on Motutara Road, Muriwai as Fire and Emergency was evacuating residents. One Fire and Emergency officer is currently unaccounted for. 

Auckland Emergency Management issued an emergency mobile alert to mobile phones in Muriwai at 1.30am asking people in Motutara Road and Domain Crescent to evacuate due to increased risk of landslides. 

Around 200 residents took shelter at the Muriwai Surf Club overnight, and NZDF is now working to support voluntary evacuations to the Waimauku War Memorial Hall Civil Defence Centre, where health professionals and St Johns staff are on site. They will then be invited to move to the Trusts Arena which has more room. 

Building assessors are assembling at Muriwai to begin visiting affected homes to assess for damage and, where needed, issue placards. These assessments will be conducted over the course of the morning.  

Auckland Emergency Management is also responding to reports of trees down and collapsed or damaged houses in Piha, Karekare, Leigh and Wellsford. Communities have also been isolated in Piha and Karekare due to landslips, and Bethells Beach due to flooding.  

Much of the region saw significant rain and wind overnight that caused widespread power outages, surface flooding, slips and damage to property.  

About 50 people from 33 households remain evacuated from their homes in an apartment building in Mt Eden, due to danger posed by a nearby unstable structure. Families were encouraged to stay with friends or family and a small number who required shelter were taken to Trusts Arena in Henderson.   

“This has been and continues to be a serious and significant event for our region, and we ask that you continue to follow Auckland emergency management advice on our website and social media channels,” says Rachel. “Keep up to date and look after one another.  

The severity of the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle have further been confirmed as the New Zealand Government has this morning declared a National State of Emergency, to assist in the response to the cyclone.  

Notes for media  

  • Overnight we saw Cyclone Gabrielle move eastwards, and while everywhere was significant effects of the storm, the heaviest rain and wind was felt along the west coast of the region. In the 12 hours to 04:00hrs on Tuesday morning, 265mm of rain fell in Piha and 106mm in Muriwai. 
  • Record river heights have been recorded across the region including in the Wairoa River valley near Clevedon which recorded a peak height of 5.55m. River heights in the Opanuku stream in Henderson Valley area did not reach the same height that caused extensive flooding in August 2021. 
  • Vector and Counties Power advise they have approximately 15,000-25,000 and 2,500 customers without power (respectively). 

Important Safety Messages  

  • I want to urge people who feel unsafe in their homes to self-evacuate to friends or family, or they can go to one of the 27 Civil Defence Centres and Shelters around Auckland. Information on civil Defence Centres is available on
  • High winds are causing fallen powerlines. A reminder to treat all powerlines as live. If you see a downed power line or damaged power equipment – stop, retreat and stay well clear. Unless you know power has been isolated – stay at least a bus length away from any lines down and do not touch anything in the vicinity (including fences, gates, vehicles).  
  • Never try to walk, swim, drive through or play in flood water. If you come to a flooded area, turn around and go another way. Avoid already flooded areas, and areas subject to sudden flooding. Do not attempt to cross fords, flowing streams or water-covered roads. 

Transport update  

  • We’re once again asking Aucklanders to stay home, at least until these winds pass. If you do need to travel, make sure you take extreme care. 
  • As the morning goes on we will be receiving more information from our roading crews about the state of Auckland’s local road network. 
  • Significant damage was caused to some local roads overnight, especially in the Waitakere Ranges. 
  • Muriwai, Karekare and Piha are currently cut off and our contractors have teams out at the moment assessing damage in the area. 
  • We will have a better picture about the state of our network once our crews have been able to properly inspect roads this morning. 
  • The most up-to-date travel advice and information for Aucklanders is available on the AT website’s weatherwatch page. This includes regular updates on road closures, areas to avoid should flooding occur, and the latest public transport information.  
  • You can also use the AT Mobile app or Journey Planner for planning your public transport journey. 


  • KiwiRail’s suspension of all passenger train services in Auckland continues until at least mid-afternoon today, in order to protect passengers, train crews and maintenance teams 
  • We will receive further updates from KiwiRail about timeframes for the rail network reopening once their crews have been able to thoroughly inspect the network.  
  • We will continue running rail replacement buses on an hourly timetable on the Western, Eastern and Southern Lines (between Otahuhu and Papakura). 
  • Our existing rail replacement buses for the Onehunga Line and the Southern Line between Newmarket and Otahuhu for the Rail Network Rebuild are continuing to operate as usual today. 
  • If your travel is essential, and you normally travel by train, you might also want to consider using one of AT’s regular scheduled bus services, which will be operating more frequently than rail replacement buses. 


  • Scheduled bus services will be running today, but there will be some delays, detours and cancellations across the network depending on the impact of the cyclone.  
  • Detours are currently in place for the 125 and 114 bus routes because of flooding and downed trees, while buses on route 146 are suspended until further notice because of slips on Waitakere Road. 
  • For schools which are opening today we will be providing school bus services. As usual we have asked our operators to prioritise running school bus services. 

Harbour bridge 

  • Although the Harbour Bridge is currently open with reduced speed limits, we do expect the Auckland Harbour Bridge to open and close throughout the day depending on the unpredictable approach of Cyclone Gabrielle. 
  • If the Auckland Harbour Bridge does close we will once again put detours in place for bus services which travel between the City Centre and North Shore. There is information about these detours on the AT weather watch webpage. 


  • Ferries services are significantly disrupted by current weather conditions, with some limited services running at the moment with cancelations in place for Gulf Harbour, Pine Harbour and Rakino services. 
  • Please see the weather watch page on the AT webpage for the latest updates about ferry services.. 

Roads and areas to avoid 

  • Auckland’s road network has been significantly affected by last night’s weather and you may not be able to take your usual route if you do need to travel. 
  • If you are on the roads, please keep a lookout for debris and fallen trees on the road, and as always to drive to the conditions. 
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