As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island

Emergency crews have been swept off their feet with strong winds pummelling the North Island - but there's a warning things aren't over yet.

Gale-force winds and heavy rain have caused slips, brought down trees and lifted roofs off of homes throughout Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Here's what we know so far:

  • A severe weather warning is in place for the Bay of Plenty, Mount Taranaki, Tongariro National Park, Marlborough and Nelson.
  • A woman has died after a tree fell on her car in Rotorua.
  • Flights in Tauranga and Great Barrier Island have been cancelled, with numerous other domestic routes affected by delays.
  • Up to 20,000 Aucklanders, and thousands more across the North Island, are still without power.
  • Floodwaters have closed several roads across the North Island.
  • Some low-lying areas around the Auckland and Waikato coast have been evacuated.
  • The storm has made landfall in Taranaki but is reaching as far down as Christchurch.
  • MetService warns winds could reach 120km/h in parts of the country on Friday afternoon.
  • The storm is set to clear on Saturday, but not before bearing down on Wellington on Friday afternoon.
  • Weather: Coastal flooding anticipated as NZ braces for storm
  • Heavy rain, strong wind batters NZ
  • Weather forces closure of newly re-opened SH1 near Kaikoura

This live updates is now concluded.

9:50pm - MetService issues severe weather watch for central NZ

Heavy rain and strong winds are set to continue over parts of central New Zealand overnight Friday and Saturday morning.

The heaviest rain is expected about Tongariro National Park and the
Kaikoura ranges and coast.

Severe gales are expected for the lower North Island and Marlborough
through to Saturday afternoon.

Strong southwesterlies may become severe in exposed places of Canterbury from Banks Peninsula northwards, Taihape, Whanganui and Manawatu, also Hawkes
Bay south of Napier.

Note, the combination of strong winds and high tides may cause
inundation in western and southern areas, especially about
Wellington's south coast and harbour.

8:45pm - Hijinks at Northcote's Little Shoal Bay

Making the most of the swampy conditions in Northcote, Auckland, this afternoon.

7:35pm - Half Moon Bay boat ramp closed

The Half Moon Bay boat ramp and loading ramp is closed until further notice, due to serious damage to the pontoon resulting from the storm.

Auckland Council has put up temporary fencing and urges Aucklanders to stay away and not use this site.

7:20pm - Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty civil defence warning

Eric Newman, the civil defence controller for Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty, says their emergency operations centre is open and preparing for tonight’s high tide, which will occur around 11pm.

He advises anyone who had problems earlier to self-evacuate rather than waiting to be told to move.

“It’s a decision that should be made now – don’t wait till it’s dark or water starts entering your property. We need the public to look after themselves and their families.”

He says the high winds and debris from trees caused the worst of the problems for the area.

“Power lines brought down, surface flooding and rivers breached - that was the sting in the tail that caught everybody.”

Mr Newman says he expects things to start to return to normal after tonight’s high tide.

6:45pm - ASB Classic rained out for second straight day

Rain has killed off a second consecutive day of ASB Classic women's singles tennis, forcing the event into an additional day.

Heavy rainfall and strong winds forced Classic organisers to cancel all play on Thursday and schedule additional matches on Friday.

However the heavens remained open, and organisers were again forced to halt play.

After several postponements, Friday's matches were cancelled at 6:00pm.

6:00pm - Power outages may last through the night

Powerco Network Operations Manager Phil Marsh said it was difficult to estimate restoration times due to the vast number of power cuts, especially in Coromandel and Tauranga.

Some customers face having no power overnight.

“There are lines down in remote parts of the network that we cannot access to inspect the situation.

"We understand this can be frustrating and apologise for the inconvenience.”

He said people should take extreme care if they see fallen power lines which are dangerous and must be treated as live at all times.

People must keep clear of all downed lines by at least 4m and call emergency services on 111 or Powerco on 0800 27 27 27 immediately.

5:40pm - Wild weather didn't stop newspaper delivery

Despite flooding and wreckage in Ngarimu Bay, Scott Sell threw on some jandals and delivered the newspaper like any other day.

Wild weather didn't stop Scott Sell from delivering the newspaper
Wild weather didn't stop Scott Sell from delivering the newspaper Photo credit: Patti Clark

5:30pm - Winds easing in upper North Island, picking up in lower North Island

5:25pm – Gale warnings enforced

Gale warnings have been enforced for Hauraki Gulf, Manukau Harbour, and Waitemata Harbour.

5:15pm - Northland road closures

Dargaville residents are being advised to avoid Victoria St due to heavy flooding.

Victoria St traffic is being redirected via Normanby St. 

5:00pm - Thames-Coromandel District Council urges people to avoid travel

4:30pm – Flights cancelled

Flights in Tauranga and Great Barrier Island have been cancelled, with numerous other domestic routes affected by delays.  

4:15pm - Northern Motorway near Harbour Bridge flooded

4:10pm - Kitesurfers taking advantage of the wind and waves

4:00pm - Thousands of homes still without power

Thousands of homes around the North Island are still without power, with most outages unlikely to be restored until at least Friday evening. 

Thousands of homes around the North Island are still without power.
Thousands of homes around the North Island are still without power. Photo credit: Vector

3:55pm - Half Moon Bay ferries replaced with buses, cancelled

Friday afternoon Half Moon Bay ferry services have been replaced by buses, with further evening services cancelled. 

3:40pm - Centre of storm over Waikato

The centre of the storm is currently over Waikato and will pass over the central North Island - slightly further north than earlier forecast. 

3:35pm – Major traffic delays on SH1 in Te Hana

A crash on SH1 in the Te Hana area north of Wellsford has been cleared but traffic is still heavily congested in both directions. 

2:50pm - Thames Coast Rd slip

A major clean up is in order after a slip on Thames Coast Rd near Whakatete Bay and severe damage near Ngarimu Bay.

Whakatete Bay
Whakatete Bay Photo credit: Meghann Rawlings
Whakatete Bay
Whakatete Bay Photo credit: Meghann Rawlings
Ngarimu Bay
Ngarimu Bay Photo credit: Suzette Major

2:30pm - Storm to clear on Saturday

With the low moving east, the wild weather is set to clear on Saturday.

2:20pm - Tamaki Drive reopens

Tamaki Drive is now open to traffic, but Auckland Transport is warning drivers to take extra care in the area.

Maraetai Rd in the Clevedon area still remains closed.

2:10pm - Truck tipped over on Thames bridge

A truck has tipped over on SH25 Kopu Bridge near Thames due to strong winds in the area, blocking the northbound lane.

The driver was not injured.

As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Nick Jones
As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Ash Wearing

2:00pm - Storm headed to Wellington

The wild weather is making it's way down to Wellington.

1:50pm - Waiheke ferry to resume

Auckland Transport says Waiheke ferry services will resume from 2pm.

Ferries will depart on the hour from Waiheke and Auckland until further notice.

1:00pm - Warning in place for the Desert Rd

A warning has been issued for the Desert Rd as gale-force winds hit the Central North Island.

12:50pm - Wild weather here for the day

MetService says the wild weather isn't going to let up anytime soon.

"Strong winds are set to continue for the upper North Island until late this evening," the weather provider says.

"Wellington , Wairarapa and the coasts of Marlborough & Christchurch will be seeing their strongest winds during the evening and Saturday morning."

Rain warnings have been lifted for Auckland, Coromandel, Nelson and the Tararua Range.

However, MetService has a severe weather warning in place for the Bay of Plenty, Mount Taranaki, Tongariro National Park, Marlborough and Nelson.

12:40pm - Northern Motorway and ferries reopen

Auckland Transport says the Northern Motorway has reopened and bus services are returning to their normal route.

Motorists should still take extra care.

12:30pm - Flooding on Christchurch roads

Motorists in Christchurch are advised to take extra care as the storm ramps up down south.

Heavy rain has caused surface flooding on New Brighton Rd and some rivers are overflowing

Christchurch City Council has activated water pumps, NZME reports.

12:20pm: Tauranga flights diverted

At least two flights into Tauranga Airport had to be diverted today, according to NZME.

Four flights managed to land but one was rerouted to Rotorua and another to Hamilton due to high winds.

12:15pm - Maraetai emergency evacuation point established

An emergency point has been established at Maraetai for anyone who has to evacuate their home.

Te Puru community hall on West Crescent, Beachlands, is open for people whose homes have been flooded or motorists stranded by the Thames Coast Rd being shut.

Civil Defence advises anyone concerned about their electricity to also go to the hall.

12:00pm - Up to 20,000 Aucklanders still without power

Up to 20,000 people are still without power in the Auckland region.

"We have more than 20 lines crews working to deal with outages and are bringing in reinforcements form outside Auckland," Vector says.

"Our arborists, Treescape, are also bringing in extra crews as most of the outages involve fallen trees or branches. 

"This number will change a lot as we restore power and as the storm creates new outages."

11:50am - Person dies after tree falls on car

A person who was left trapped in their vehicle after a tree collapsed onto it in Rotorua has died, police have confirmed.

The tree's collapse is believed to have been caused by severe weather in the region, which has brought rain and gale-force winds.

A tree on the corner of Arawa and Amohia St in Rotorua city centre.
A tree on the corner of Arawa and Amohia St in Rotorua city centre. Photo credit: Google Maps

The tree, located at the intersection of Arawa and Amohia St in the Rotorua city centre, fell at 10:45am on Friday morning.

11:45am - Redwood trees fallen at Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest

Strong winds have blown over several redwood trees at Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest.

One of the trees landed on top of a car but there is not thought to have been anyone inside.

No one is thought to have been inside the car.
No one is thought to have been inside the car. Photo credit: Newshub.

The area is well known for its suspended tree bridge walks. 

11:35am - Floodwaters hit Tairua

Floodwaters haven't dampened spirits at the Tairua-Pauanui Sports Fishing Club.

Club president Warren Maher told Newshub there was a "mad scramble" to move storage boxes upstairs as their entire carpark was submerged at around 10:30am.

"We sometimes get the odd wave drifting across the road but not right up to the doors," he said.

"The king tide came right across with the wind behind it."

The club says it'll still stay open for business tonight.

As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Supplied / Cié Robinson-Bates
As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Supplied / Cié Robinson-Bates

11:20am - Person trapped inside car underneath fallen tree

Emergency services are cutting through a large fallen tree in Rotorua to try and reach a person trapped inside a car.

Police have confirmed to Newshub one person appears to be inside the vehicle near the intersection of Arawa and Amohia St.

11:10am - Flooding blocks Auckland motorway

Flooding is blocking lanes on Auckland's North Western Motorway.

The Causeway, driving eastbound, is down to one lane.

Meanwhile Tamaki Drive remains closed with flooding, and Maraetai Coast Rd in Clevedon is also closed.

10:55am - Wairoa River Bridge reserve flooded

The reserve is flooding underneath the Wairoa River Bridge on State Highway 2 near Tauranga.

As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Newshub.
As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:40am - Self-evacuations urged in southeast Auckland

People in low-lying areas of Kaiaua village on the border of Auckland and Waikato, on the Firth of Thames coast, are being urged to self-evacuate to higher ground.

Local fire crews are currently assisting residents and Civil Defence crews are also on their way to help evacuations.

East Coast Rd has been closed. A king tide is currently hitting the area.

As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Google Maps

10:30am - Auckland's Maraetai flooded by king tide

Photos show a pedestrian crossing in Maraetai completely submerged as the king tide hits Auckland.

A Maraetai pedestrian crossing.
A Maraetai pedestrian crossing. Photo credit: Newshub.

10:20am - Storm moves south

The storm that has cut power and closed roads across the North Island is moving south.

"That big rain band has moved down and is now affecting Marlborough, Nelson and upper parts of Canterbury," MetService meteorologist April Clark told Newshub.

But the North Island is not in the clear yet.

"As that low moves it's going to be a very dynamic situation for the rest of the North Island today," Ms Clark says.

We are expecting another bout of heavy rain."

"The main thing with the north today is that some areas could get really high winds.

"With those we could get gusts of up to 120km/h."

10:15am - Thames Coast Rd in Waikato set to close

Thames Coast Rd in the Waikato is set to close, police say.

Waves and rocks are coming up on the road making driving conditions unsafe.

10:10am -Power restored for some Eastland residents

Crews have restored power to hundreds of Eastland residents across Gisborne, Wairoa and the Coast.

Around 150 people in the area are still without power.

"Some areas are difficult to access because roads are blocked by fallen trees," Eastland Network general manager Brent Stewart says.

"We thank customers for their patience, and we remind everyone to always treat electricity lines as live."

10:00am - Weather closes roads, gorges

State Highway 1 north and south of Kaikoura has been forced to close because of weather conditions less than a month after the newly rebuilt road re-opened.

It's only three weeks since the coastal highway, rebuilt after the Kaikoura earthquake, opened to holiday traffic.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says it's now closed between Mangamuanu and Clarence, north of Kaikoura, and Goose Bay to Peketa in the south, because of adverse weather conditions.

Motorists are being advised to take inland routes.

In the North Island, SH2 through the Waioeka Gorge, between the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, is also closed, because of two large slips.

9:45am - Vector asks for patience

Vector is asking for patience as crews work to restore power to thousands across the Auckland region.

"Please bear with us," the power company said on Twitter.

"We've called in additional crews as we work to restore power to the remaining areas.

"As always safety of our crews and the public is our first priority."

9:40am - Auckland's Half Moon Bay ferries cancelled

All ferry trips from Half Moon Bay have been cancelled until further notice.

Waiheke Island services are still running but on a reduced timetable.

9:30am - another bout of rain on the way

MetService says the country will be hit by more rain at around midday.

"It may look nice now, but things will change!"

9:30am - Tamaki Drive buses still operational

For those wanting to take buses that head down now-closed Tamaki Drive, don't worry - these services are still operational but will be taking detours.

Allow yourself extra time this morning.

9:20am - Auckland's two-month downpour in 24 hours

Auckland has experienced more rainfall in the past 24 hours than in November and December combined, NIWA says.

9:15am - SH2 Waiokea Gorge reopens

State Highway 2 Waioeka Gorge in the Bay of Plenty has reopened following a slip earlier this morning.

9:00am - Auckland's Tamaki Drive submerged

Auckland Transport has posted footage of Tamaki Drive submerged with water as waves crash over the barrier.

The road is closed between The Strand and Ngapipi Rd.

As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Twitter / Auckland Transport

8:55am - NIWA's 'incredible' rainfall video comes with warning

NIWA has released a video showing an "incredible" view of rainfall over the past 24 hours - but it comes with a warning.

"With the rain will come a period of strong, possibly, damaging wind gusts," NIWA's Twitter page reads.

8:50am - Coromandel weathers storm 'very well'

It's business as usual in the Coromandel with only minor damage left from the storm overnight.

"Coromandel weathered the storm very well," Civil Defence controller Garry Towler says.

The area was left with "minor" debris and flooding around the Coromandel Peninsula, as well as power outages in Mercury Bay.

Mr Towler expects power to come back on by mid-morning.

Water supply issues in southern Coromandel should also be fixed by mid-morning

Civil Defence warns drivers to take care as strong winds ramp up.

8:45am - Interislander to run as normal

The Interislander will run as normal today.

Another Auckland ferry service between Pine Harbour and the city has been cancelled.

The 9:05am ferry and the return service at 9:50 have been replaced by bus.

8:40am - Auckland's Tamaki Drive closed

Auckland's Tamaki Drive is closed between Ngapipi Rd and the port due to continuing storm surges," Auckland Transport says.

"Stay safe it isn’t over yet."

8:30am - Power outage update

Thousands of properties across the North Island are without power as crews work to restore more than 100 separate outages.

Vector says there are 26 power outages across the Auckland region alone, affecting thousands of customers.

Just over 1200 homes are without power across Rotorua, Napier and Hastings.

Power is back on to 5000 homes in Whitianga, but another 4000 are still waiting to have power restored, likely at around 9:30am.

8:20am - MetService update

MetService has released an update on recorded rainfall on Thursday morning.

The Coromandel Ranges and Rotorua had the heaviest rainfall, with 130mm and 111mm respectively.

8:15am - Auckland's Tamaki Drive may close again

Auckland's Tamaki Drive, which was closed yesterday due to heavy flooding, may have to close again today at high tide.

"Following last nights storm please take extra care and drive to the conditions as there may be trees and small slips down on roads," Auckland Transport says on Twitter.

"Tamaki Dr may close again around high tide (10:47am this morning) so avoid the area if possible."

8:10am - Kaikoura SH1 closes

Rain has forced the closure of SH1 north and south of Kaikoura.

8:05am - MetService update

MetService has released a map showing where the strongest winds are.

8:00am - Ferry services cancelled

Some Auckland ferry services, from Pine Harbour to the city, have been replaced by buses this morning.

The 7:40am and 8:20am services, and return services at 8:20am and 9:10am are cancelled, Auckland Transport says.

7:30am - Emergency crews inundated with calls

The fire service attended about 200 calls overnight, while St John went to 12 crashes.

Photos are emerging of some of the damage. A large tree came down in Otahuhu, crushing a car. In Maraetai late on Thursday night, water was flooding the main road.

As it happened: Flights cancelled, evacuations urged as wild weather sweeps North Island
Photo credit: Facebook / Counties Manukau Fire Area

7:00am - Power outages island-wide

Vector is dealing with 20 power outages across the Auckland region.

In Palmerston North at least 365 properties are also cut off.

In the Far North region 1500 properties are impacted.

More than 9000 properties are without power in Whitianga, the Thames-Coromandel District Council says.

Overnight, Vector dealt with so many outages their mobile app crashed.

"We are currently processing a higher than normal volume of outage reports," the app read at 12am on Friday morning.

6:30am - More wild weather to come

There's a warning the storm will bring more bad weather to come. RadioLIVE weatherman Richard Green says the wind will be ramping up on Friday.

"Showers shouldn't be as thorough through parts of the North Island as it was [on Thursday], but the wind will be more obvious than it was yesterday."

Gales up to 120km/h are expected in Taranaki.

NZME reports Coromandel, Auckland, Waitomo and Bay of Plenty may also be hit by winds reaching 120km/h between 7am and 10am on Friday morning.

6:00am - Drive to the conditions - police

Police are advising motorists to take it easy on the roads as the stormy weather batters the country.

Heavy rain from a severe front is setting in across the North Island, with up to 130mm expected to fall.

Insp Ross Lienert says poor weather is no excuse for poor driving and motorists should drive to the conditions.

5:30am - Online help

Waikato residents can now access up-to-date information about the weather bomb online.

The Waikato Regional Council has set up the Flood Room website for locals to access vital information about natural hazards in the area.

It has linked all the essential natural hazard details into one place for locals to keep up with the latest.

Spokesman Rick Leifting says it's seen a lot of traction.

"There is information there on who to best contact for flood-related issues or incidents. It gives people a little bit of peace of mind that they're doing the right thing."