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A flooded street in Gore this morning (Photo: Gore District Council Facebook)
A flooded street in Gore this morning (Photo: Gore District Council Facebook)

SocietySeptember 22, 2023

Southland and Otago flooding: What you need to know

A flooded street in Gore this morning (Photo: Gore District Council Facebook)
A flooded street in Gore this morning (Photo: Gore District Council Facebook)

A state of emergency has been declared across Southland and in Queenstown as severe weather causes major flooding across much of the region. 

1.39pm: For the latest information about the weather, river levels and road closures in Queenstown and Southland, please check out our live updates

What is a state of emergency?

A state of emergency is called when an event occurs that may cause injury or loss of life to New Zealanders and that can’t be dealt with adequately by routine emergency services. A state of local emergency provides access to powers that would not normally be available, and is usually called by a mayor. A nationwide state of emergency can be called by the government for very large events.

The weather conditions 

As a cold front moved across the region, heavy rainfall and strong winds in the south of the South Island damaged roads and houses and caused landslides. Yesterday, 61mm of rain (the average amount for the entire month of September) fell in Queenstown, 102mm fell in Gore and 65mm fell in Invercargill. 

The forecast seems set to improve in Southland, although this morning Metservice issued a heavy rain watch for Otago (excluding Clutha but including Queenstown Lake District) until 7pm tonight. There are also several snow warnings for Friday, including a heavy snow warning (orange) for Mackenzie Country, inland Canterbury, Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes.

States of emergency have been declared in Queenstown and Southland. Here’s what you need to know. 


A state of local emergency was declared at 6.33am on Friday morning for Queenstown. Emergency services have been responding to flooding and debris flows in the Queenstown town centre. 

Multiple roads are closed around the town, as well as in the wider Queenstown and Central Otago areas. Snowfall warnings have been issued for high altitude roads across the area, including the Crown Range Road. Land slips are limiting movement in the area: a photo on Reddit shows a huge slosh of mud and trees across the gondola entry. Some flights have been cancelled – check the Queenstown Airport website for information. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council is advising people to avoid non-essential travel around the town centre, and more than 100 people have been evacuated from the Brecon Street and Reavers Lane areas.  Full details are here

An evacuation centre is open at the Queenstown Memorial Hall. In Glenorchy, an evacuation centre was opened last night at the Glenorchy school. 

For the latest information: 

Emergency Management Otago 

Queenstown Lakes District Council 

Waka Kotahi Otago


A state of emergency was declared for Gore at 1.15pm on Thursday, due to heavy surface flooding. This was followed by a Southland-wide state of regional emergency at 6pm on Thursday. 

The Gore District Council is continuing to monitor Mataura River levels, which are expected to peak at 6pm tonight.

There are several road closures around the district. State highway one between Gore and Mataura is closed, with the detour for all vehicles via State Highway 96, Waimumu Road and Charlton Road. These roads are all sealed. 

The water treatment plant in Tuatapere is now operational again thanks to a generator. Southland District Council advises Tuatapere residents to boil water until further notice.  

Community emergency hubs are available at Croydon Lodge in Gore, and Mataura Community Centre. Several schools in the region are closed.

For the latest information:

Emergency Management Southland

Gore District Council

Waka Kotahi Southland

Other helpful follows:

Otago Civil Defence and Emergency Management 

Emergency Management Southland

Southland District Council

Otago Regional Council

Highways South

Environment Southland

Last updated: Friday 22 September, 10.14am

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