Cyclone Gabrielle intensifying through today and overnight

Published on 13 February 2023

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(Image: Flooding in the boat ramp area near the Whangamatā marina this afternoon)

As Cyclone Gabrielle intensifies today, the time to self-evacuate or get last-minute supplies is fast running out.

The cyclone will build momentum throughout today and continue through until the early hours of Tuesday morning, when the rain will begin to ease but winds will remain at gale force.

What this means:

400mm of rain is expected over the next 24 hours.

Gale force easterly winds with gusts of 130km/h will cover the entire district.

The eye of the cyclone is directly over the Coromandel at present and it is forecast to head south east and move off by Tuesday afternoon.

Once this happens, the strong winds will turn westerly and impact the Firth of Thames and State Highway 25 (Thames Coast Road).

The barometric pressure for the Firth of Thames later today will be at 962 p/a, this is almost as low as Cyclone Bola in 1988.

Our Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler has two very clear messages for everyone:

“Get to somewhere safe and secure now and stay there for the next 24 hours, don’t take any risks,” Mr Towler says.

“This is an unprecedented storm event. It is going to be intense and dangerous for anyone not hunkered down and safe.”

Our Mayor Len Salt has expressed his gratitude to the dozens of people, Council staff, emergency Services personnel, emergency management specialists and contractors for answering the call to help out.

Civil Defence have approximately 150 personnel responding, supporting and standing by for the event, many have travelled from across the region and elsewhere in New Zealand to be here to help us.

“Our sincere thanks go to the ‘cavalry’ for coming to our aid, we really need this support as we have been absolutely smashed these past six weeks and resources are very stretched,” says Mr Towler.

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Here's Mayor Len with a message about our Civil Defence Centres, self-evacuation, and our unrivalled community spirit:


Additional information:

Council services:

  • Our Council’s Whangamatā and Coromandel Town service centres are closed today. Our Whitianga service centre will close at 3pm today.
  • All our Refuse Transfer Stations (RTS) are closed today and tomorrow.
  • There are no Kerbside rubbish and recycling collections today or tomorrow. There will be no catch-up collections. Keep your material until next week or take it to a RTS once they’re open.
  • Thames Centennial Pool is closed today and tomorrow.
  • The Whangamatā Community Board meeting on Tuesday 14 February has been postponed with the new date to be confirmed.

Wastewater Overflows:

Our Council's wastewater pump stations in the areas listed below have become inaccessible and inoperable due to heavy localised flooding. As a result, there have been overflows of diluted wastewater from wastewater pump stations into areas already experiencing localised stormwater flooding.

The currently affected areas are: Matarangi, Whitianga, Cooks Beach, Pāuanui, Tairua and Whangamatā.

We ask all residents that should you enter a flooded area that you treat the water as being contaminated with wastewater and ensure you follow good health practice by washing yourself and all clothes afterwards.

We will attempt to access the pump station sites tomorrow morning (Tuesday). However, this is dependent on conditions at each pump station site and the weather.

Matatoki, Puriri and Omahu Water Supplies:
All Matatoki, Puriri and Omahu residents who are on our Council’s public water supplies, due to flooding limiting staff access and high rainfall affecting supplies we are likely to run out of water at each of the towns overnight.


To ensure residents have water supplies available, from 8pm tonight we'll have a water tanker set up at Puriri that residents will be able to access and refill water containers.


We will attempt to restart our water supply systems tomorrow but this will be dependent on weather conditions and localised flooding.


Matarangi, Pauanui and Tairua Water Supplies

The power outages in these areas means we are unable to run the water treatment plants, and water levels in the reservoirs are dropping significantly. This could result in the loss of water supply.  We ask that all residents reduce their usage to the minimum to try and maintain water supply till we are able to restart the plants after power is restored or we are able to connect portable generators. 

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has closed facilities throughout Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and the Hawke’s Bay. Visitors should keep an eye on the dedicated page of the DOC website for weather-related updates:

  • Whitianga New World is closing at 7pm tonight
  • Countdown Whitianga is closing at 2pm today.

Below is a map showing areas at particular risk of flooding. Other areas that have flooded in the past may also experience flooding or inundation from the sea.

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