Deep mud that jammed the doors shut forced Clifton resident Gordon Bannister to climb through the windows of his flooded house last week.
His landlord hired a digger to lower the level of surrounding mud so they could wash silt from the converted Charlton Rd woolshed.
The uninsured but affable Englishman had enjoyed his idyllic converted woolshed on the banks of the Maraetotara River for the last three years - but no more.
"I'm looking for somewhere to live," he said.
"I can't go through this again - I've lost too much."
He had retreated from his house to his campervan on higher ground last week once water invaded his home.
The raging river burst its banks and spread over the surrounding paddocks to the sea on Tuesday night, cutting off access to Clifton.
It threatened to flood caravans at the Clifton No2 campground on Tuesday night before it scoured out an escape for itself to the sea.
Residents at the No1 campsite, nestled between the ocean and mountainside, were shocked when unoccupied caravans were buried with unprecedented quantities of mud, stones and tree branches from previously dry gullies.
"We used to worry about danger from the sea, but now we are looking behind us," one resident said.
An army Unimog evacuated 20 Clifton residents on Wednesday across the flooded road.
Colin Lindsay of Gannet Beach Adventures said he was amazed how much soil had been left on the beach towards Cape Kidnappers.
"At each gully the sediment is piled five metres high," he said.
The company's season had been forced to end early due to the damage.
Currently Clifton is a hive of activity, repairing the damage. Mr Bannister said his neighbours had been fantastic.
Committee members of Clifton Domain Club, that governs the campground, are out in force repairing damage - 2000 cubic metres of debris were removed over the weekend.
Camp manager Alan Bennett said it would take about three weeks to clean up the mess.
"I wasn't very happy with it, I had just mowed the lawns," he said.