Tourist van floods in Thames

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By Jaden McLeod

A Canadian mother and daughter awoke to an unwelcome surprise in flood-soaked Thames.

"I woke up to my Mum shaking me awake saying that there is water outside and we need to go right now. So I climbed quickly into the front of the van, and I looked around at all the water inside. I couldn't even sit on the seats. It was full up to there."

Mother Tracey Hatch has wanted to see New Zealand since she was young.

"My eldest daughter gave me a trip here for Christmas as my present. Now here we are, flooded in Thames."

Mrs Hatch says the sounds of sirens woke her in the night.

At that stage water hadn't risen around the van, but she was concerned nonetheless.

"I was worried about tsunami, being a foreigner. So I quickly looked it up. It wasn't a tsunami, which I was happy about. But that's turned out to be pointless."

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However, by the time the sun rose the van had been swamped by a surge of water.

"A few guys that were with the trucks that were already wet, crawled into the water to come help us."

The pair were taken to St John to get warm clothes, and were taken in by a good samaritan who belongs to the same church.

Mrs Hatch's daughter, who runs a travel blog, says the kindness of strangers was amazing.

"Everybody just came together to really do anything they can do to help us. We said we weren't that cold, just a little wet, and that we would get back to the van, but they were super helpful and super kind which was really nice," says daughter, Ashley.

The mother and daughter will return to Auckland to see if their rental car company will allow them a replacement vehicle, so they can continue on their journey.

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