New zealand auckland rain
Cars are seen in a flooded street during heavy rainfall in Auckland, New Zealand January 27, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Image Credit: @MonteChristoNZ/via REUTERS

New Zealand has declared a national state of emergency as Cyclone Gabrielle sweeps across the nation's North Island, causing floods, landslips and power outages.

"This is an unprecedented weather event that is having major impacts across much of the North Island," Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said Tuesday in Wellington. "This declaration will enable the government to support the affected regions, provide additional resources as they are needed, and help set the priorities across the country for the response."

The declaration comes as emergency services search for a firefighter missing after being caught in a sudden landslide at Muriwai on Auckland's coast after gales and rain buffeted the region. More than 265 millimeters (10 inches) of rain was recorded on Auckland's west coast in a 12-hour period.


The firefighter was one of two trapped at Muriwai after the deluge caused multiple slips, damaged homes and sparked evacuations. The other firefighter was rescued with critical injuries.

Heavy rain caused flooding, with a river north of Auckland bursting its banks and requiring evacuations, while wind threatened to topple a tower in Auckland city, also requiring local residents to leave their homes.

Cyclone Gabrielle has now passed Auckland, home to 1.6 million people, toppling trees and cutting power to tens of thousands of homes as it moves toward the east coast.

The cyclone comes two weeks after Auckland was smashed by a storm that caused extensive damage from widespread flooding and landslides. Four people died.