Hundreds of Tourists Trapped in New Zealand's Remote Milford Sound Region Following Torrential Rain and Severe Flooding

Hundreds of tourists and hotel staff are trapped in New Zealand's remote Milford Sound region, where a state of emergency was declared on Monday following torrential rain and severe flooding over the past 24 hours, local authorities confirm.

Milford Sound sits within Southland, where a state of emergency was also declared by Southland Civil Defence Emergency Management on Tuesday after it received more than a meter of rain within 60 hours.

Around 195 tourists and 200 hotel staff were reported to be safe and staying either in tourist boats or inside the Mitre Peak Lodge, with sufficient food supplies. They will be evacuated from the area on Wednesday once the weather conditions become safer, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"Weather conditions and road closures mean it is best to keep the tourists in Milford until they can be safely transported out," the Southland Civil Defence Emergency Management stated on its official Facebook page.

Around 30 hikers were also reported to be stuck in a hut that was struck by a landslide near Lake Howden. Evacuation of these hikers began on Tuesday, while around 70 other hikers on the Te Anu side of the Homer Tunnel were also airlifted by helicopter, The New Zealand Herald reports.

More rain is expected in the next couple of days, according to the MetService, New Zealand's national weather service.

''We expect a further 300mm[12 inches]-350mm[14 inches] of rain to accumulate about the ranges. Those are the upper limits of what we expect will fall. Smaller amounts are expected around the coast, about 90mm[3.5 inches-150mm[6 inches] through until 4pm tomorrow [Wednesday],'' a spokesperson for the MetService told The New Zealand Herald.

The MetOffice issued its first-ever "Red Severe Weather Warning" for the Fjordland region and the Westland district, indicating the most extreme weather conditions as well as major impact and disruption is expected in the area.

Tour operators were reported to be prepared to fly out any tourists, where possible, for those who need to urgently leave the Fjordland region, The New Zealand Herald confirmed.

Milford Road (State Highway 94), the only road leading to Milford Sound, will be closed all week due to the damage from the latest severe weather, the New Zealand Transport Agency confirmed.

Located in South Island's Fjordland National Park of the UNESCO-designated Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site, Milford Sound is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions.

Last month, nearly 1,000 tourists were left stranded in the South Island following landslides and flooding in the coastal towns of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. The area experienced extreme thunderstorms over that weekend, with nearly 300,000 lightning strikes that Sunday, according to New Zealand's NIWA Weather, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Milford Sound South Island New Zealand 2012
Milford Sound in New Zealand's South Island, within Fiordland National Park pictured on May 7, 2012. Getty Images
Hundreds of Tourists Trapped in New Zealand's Remote Milford Sound Region Following Torrential Rain and Severe Flooding | World