Cyclone Cook hits New Zealand

This was Cyclone Cook's path on Wednesday. For the latest updates from Thursday, click here

Winter is coming with a vengeance as Tropical Cyclone Cook barrels towards New Zealand from the north, and a low front brings heavy rain from the Tasman.

Winds of more than 165km/h are hitting Great Barrier Island, and the drenched Bay of Plenty is bracing for up to 300mm more rain.

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Live updates

10:20pm: That's it for the night from Newshub. Thank you and stay safe!

10:08pm: A  woman trapped in her car in flood waters has been rescued by a local farmer and his tractor.

The fire service was in attendance, but the woman is now on dry land after the Whangaruru farmer helped her escape her water-logged vehicle. 

A police spokesperson said emergency services were called to the scene near Whangaruru Wharf Road at about 9:10pm.

10:00pm: The University of Otago is preparing for the heavy rain and severe weather forecast over the next 48 hours for Dunedin.

The occupants of about eight flats along Leith Street have been asked to shift items in their yards to higher ground, in case the Leith floods.

People are also urged to stay clear of the Leith and its banks at all times, as a significant amount of water is likely to impact the Leith.

9:30pm: The Lucas Creek waterfall in Auckland's Albany has been turned into a thundering torrent as a deluge of rain hits the city.

8:30pm: The NZ Red Cross is in the Bay of Plenty helping affected communities.

7:40pm: New Zealand Civil Defence warns the public not to take any chances.

7:05pm: The cyclone is sending eels to weird places. Glendowie woman Melinda Williams found these in her backyard.

6:45pm: Severe weather could disrupt public transport, Auckland Transport says.

6:30pm: Civil Defence says you should store at least three days of food that is easily accessible in case you have to evacuate.

6:00pm: NIWA shows Cyclone Cook's forecasted rain path.

5:00pm: Cyclone Cook closes 94 schools and 129 North Island early learning centres.

With heavy rain forecast to continue, all schools and early learning centres in the Eastern Bay of Plenty will be advised to remain closed, and there will be further closures in the Franklin area, Great Barrier Island, Waiheke Island, Thames and Coromandel.

In total 94 schools and 129 early childhood centres (ECEs) have been advised to close tomorrow, says the Ministry of Education's deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey.

"All 57 schools and about 80 ECEs in the Eastern Bay of Plenty have been contacted and advised to close tomorrow. Another 13 schools and 16 ECEs on Great Barrier Island, Waiheke and in the Franklin area, and a further 24 schools and 33 ECEs in Thames and Coromandel have also been contacted and advised to close tomorrow - meaning they will all be closed until the end of the school holidays," she says.

"We did not take this decision lightly but with weather conditions set to continue, concerns are centred around the ability for students to make it safely to and from school.

"Parents whose children go to schools in other parts of the Bay of Plenty or elsewhere in the country where there is a significant impact from the weather should check their schools websites or Facebook pages."

4:50pm: A state of emergency has been declared in Thames.

4:45pm: The Water of Leith has reached the lowest of its terraces.

4:30pm:The NIWA weather team looks at the damage Cyclone Cook will cause.

4:16pm: Civil Defence recommends you act quickly if you see rising water.

3:57pm: A boil water notice has been issued for the following eastern Bay of Plenty areas due to risk of contamination from flood waters:

  • Tāneatua
  • Te Mahoe
  • Rūātoki
  • Rangitaiki Plains (including Te Teko/Mapou, Edgecumbe, Awakeri, Braemar, Onepu, Otakiri and Thornton).

3:00pm: MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray is warning Cyclone Cook will be the worst to hit NZ since 1968.

"I've been a meteorologist for 12 years and I've never seen a low take a track across NZ like this," she says.

"More experienced forecasters say that this is the worst they've seen since 1968, when the Wahine disaster occurred."

Ms Murray warns the combination of severe winds and rain could have devastating effects.

"It is bad. We are very concerned for Auckland," she says.

"When you combined the wind and rain together we could get coastal inundation."

Ms Murray says these coastal areas will be at risk from the six-metre swells - and possible landslips.

"I do have concerns that people have had enough of the weather, that people are going 'this is just another storm'" she says.

"In this scenario we have a really tightly wrapped low that is bringing all the severe weather issues to the region."

Ms Murray urges Aucklanders to be prepared for the worst.

"We're really advising people to take action," she says. "Tie down trampolines, and prepare for power outages."

2:45pm: Waikato Civil Defence is warning residents to be prepared.

2:30pm: Trains have been interrupted and roads closed as rain lashes Auckland.

Roads in the north, south-east, and west of the city are flooded or have been hit by slips, Auckland Transport says.

Travellers on the city's southern train line are being told to expect cancellations and delays due to flooding in Manurewa.

Ferry services between the Gulf Harbour and Auckland have also been suspended and are being replaced by buses for the rest of the day.

North:

  • Mangawhai Rd (closed between Ryan Rd and Waiteitei Rd, flooding)

South-east:

  • Kawakawa Bay Coast Rd (closed, slips, access for residents only)
  • East Coast Rd (closed, slips)
  • Franklin Rd, Pukekohe (closed, flooding)

West:

  • Great North Rd & Clark St intersection, New Lynn (closed, flooding)
  • Bethells Rd (closed between Stoney Creek Dr and Duffy Rd, slips)

2:15pm: Tropical Cyclone Cook has been reclassified as an extra-tropical low.

2:00pm: Pak'nSave Whakatane still open for business.

Speculation on Facebook claiming panic buying because of the storm had forced the Whakatane Pak'nSave to close appears to well wide of the mark.

Foodstuffs external relations manager Sue Hamilton saw the posts and confirmed to Newshub the supermarket is still open to the public and will not be closing early.

"There's absolutely no need to panic buy. We are also bringing in extra supplies to help out with storm-affected residents," she says.  

"Take care of yourselves and each other. Cheers, the Pak'nSave team."

1:00pm: 

  • A state of emergency has been declared for the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group
  • Cyclone Cook will hit the Bay of Plenty region with more than 200mm of rain expected the next few days and will be similar in strength to Cyclone Debbie
  • Civil Defence are urging all residents to have an evacuation plan in place, have a supply of food and water for three days, and avoid unnecessary travel
  • Cyclone Cook is expected to hit the Coromandel Peninsula or western Bay of Plenty late Thursday afternoon or evening and move south, reaching Wellington in the early hours of Friday morning.
  • Heavy rain and gale force winds are expected across the country
  • The Northland region will be particularly hard hit by severe gales on Thursday
  • A Heavy Rain Warning remains in force for eastern Otago, Buller, Nelson, Marlborough Sounds, Taupo, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel Peninsula, Auckland, including Great Barrier Island, Northland and Tongariro National Park
  • Waikato, Waitomo and Mt Taranaki have been upgraded from heavy weather watches to warnings
  • The BayTrust Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to the remote township of Ruatahuna on Tuesday night to relocate a family with on-going medical needs
  • The Emergency Operations Centre in Dunedin City Council is operating ahead of anticipated flooding issues expected in the city on Wednesday
  • A volunteer armer in Edegecumbe are calling for members of the community to join them after last week's flood
  • Waikato farmers are being told to move stock to higher ground and prepare for power outages
  • Heavy rain has already hit the Auckland region and some homes have been flooded
  • There are several road closures in place all over Auckland including: Mangawhai Rd, Kawakawa Bay Coast Rd, East Coast Rd, Franklin Rd, Pukekohe, Great North Rd & Clark St intersection, New Lynn and Bethells Rd

Midday update:

Winter is coming with a vengeance as Tropical Cyclone Cook barrels towards New Zealand, with winds of more than 165km/h hitting Great Barrier Island, and the drenched Bay of Plenty bracing for more flooding.

The cyclone is expected to hit on Thursday, and Auckland Council is urging Great Barrier residents to be prepared and watch forecasts.

In the Bay of Plenty, residents of flood-stricken Edgecumbe are scrambling to get as many belongings out of their homes as possible.

Black clouds are building over the Bay of Plenty and up to 300mm rain is expected to fall on the east coast and central North Island area, as the storm moves across the country.

A queue of traffic about 200m long is heading into Edgecumbe, as residents try to get into homes and get out before the second storm hits.

Civil Defence has called in volunteers from across the region to help people inside the cordons.

It's expected coastal parts of Bay of Plenty will be hit badly with severe gales and big swells.

Emergency services are telling families to be prepared, and if it looks bad, to evacuate with an emergency kit.

"The regional council is working closely with Trustpower to lower the Matahina dam to the lowest levels ever recorded," Whakatāne District Council says.

"Pumps along the Rangitikei are also going full speed to remove water from flooded areas and there are ongoing inspections of the stopbanks."

Edgecumbe residents will be alerted to any evacuations by fire station sirens sounding continuously and by emergency services vehicles driving round with sirens on, the council says.

All schools and early childhood centres in the eastern Bay of Plenty are being advised to close today, as the wet weather moves in from the Tasman, and Tropical Cyclone Cook approaches from the north.

Volunteer hunters and butchers are to gather at Kokohinau marae this morning to begin organising relief food packages for those hardest hit.

The event's organiser Mawera Karetai says she's been inundated with requests to lend a hand.

"When one part of our area experiences hardship everybody pitches in to help, so it was a natural thing for us. We're throwing this together so quickly but by crikey there's been some amazing support for it."

Food will be ready for collection by families in need from 10am to midday Thursday.

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