The worst of Cyclone Cook is over - leaving traffic jams and insurance bills in its wake.

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4:15pm: This garden shed in Tauranga had a lucky escape.

3:00pm: Significant amounts of water are still on the roads in Christchurch.

2:10pm: The clean-up is beginning in Christchurch.

christchurch flooding cyclone cook
Christchurch streets are flooded (Supplied / Abby Hamilton)

12:40pm: Cyclone Cook is now located off the south Canterbury coast, and will be south of New Zealand by mignight, MetService says.

12:30pm: A number of main roads around the country are gridlocked, after most travellers hunkered down on Thursday. There has also been a big crash on SH1 at Bulls, which has closed the road there. 

12:00pm: Power to 3000 customers in Hawke's Bay has been restored, but 10,000 remain in the dark.

Danny Gough from Unison is begging people to stay away from fallen lines.

"They're continuing to go near and in some cases walking over power lines," he says.

Property-owners mopping up after the storm are being told to watch out for possible exposure to asbestos.

The Demolition and Asbestos Association says storm damage could have inadvertently disturbed any asbestos that might be in old houses.

10:15am: In Auckland, New Lynn is now accessible via Great North Rd, which has been partially re-opened.

Water levels have receded enough that two lanes, and footpaths, can be used, Auckland Council says. 

10:05am: The Thames-Coromandel District state of emergency has ended. More details here.

10:00am: The minister leading the Edgecumbe recovery is praising the Bay of Plenty's preparation for Cyclone Cook. 

Anne Tolley was evacuated from her Ōhope home, and stayed with the Whakatāne mayor.

She says all precautionary measures paid off.

"We're standing where we are today with no major injuries to people, no major inundation of homes and no serious consequences other than some infrastructure and a bit of a clean-up."

9:40am: Spark has opened its free wifi nationally, to benefit those cut off by the cyclone.

Cell-sites in the Bay of Plenty, Eastern and Hawkes Bay areas are down and will be restored when teams can get to them safely.

Spark customers can also have their landline calls redirected to cellphones if they are still evacuated. 

9:30am: There are big queues of traffic heading from Auckland to Coromandel on the Southern motorway. There are also a number of road closures and delays around the country, including parts of SH2, SH25, SH30 and SH34. See the NZTA website for details.

Traffic heading south from Auckland
Traffic heading south from Auckland (Briar Marbeck)

9:15am: Hawke's Bay has woken up to see widespread damage to roofs and powerlines, and many fallen trees.

Police are urging locals to keep off the roads unless it's essential.

"There are too many roads impacted to name them all, most are affected by trees coming down," police said.

Napier residents on Facebook say at least six trees on McDonald St have fallen. Elm St has also seen widespread damage.

"Nightmare on Elm Street. So many trees rooted. Literally," Napier resident Robyn McLean wrote on Facebook.

Fallen tree on McDonald St Napier
A fallen tree on McDonald St, Napier (Sonya Ferguson)
Hawke's Bay house Cyclone Cook damage
Damage to a Hawke's Bay house after Cyclone Cook (Petra Cawood)

9:00am: MetService meteorologist Nick Zachar says the worst of Cook is over, with the cyclone lying about 50km northeast of the Banks Peninsula, slowly weakening and heading south away from New Zealand.

"With that being said, much of the South Island is getting a bit of rain at the moment," he said.

"Christchurch had a decent fall with 20-30mm recorded in the last six hours, and parts of Akaroa and Banks Peninsula had upwards of 60mm."

8:15am: Forecaster Richard Green has given an update on Easter weather with RadioLIVE.

8:00am: People around most parts of the North Island's east coast are waking up to see damage from Cyclone Cook. In Havelock North, a massive tree has fallen at Te Mata School.

Nearby in Napier, a tree has fallen on a parked car. 

Te Mata School fallen tree
The fallen tree at Te Mata School (Petra Cawood)
Tree fallen on car in Napier
The fallen tree on a Napier street (Sonya Ferguson)
  • Two people were hospitalised in the Hawke's Bay after a tree brought down by the cyclone struck their car.
  • Fire crews had to pull the pair from the vehicle in Havelock North
  • There's been widespread damage to roofs, trees and powerlines in Hawke's Bay. Police are urging locals to keep off the roads unless it's essential. "There are too many roads impacted to name them all, most are affected by trees coming down," police said.
  • Waikato was forecast to get 20mm of rain before 10pm, with a section of SH1 flooding earlier, while Mount Taranaki, Tongariro National Park, Taupo and Kaikoura are all in for brief but heavy rain through the night.
  • The weather disrupted regional flights across the country on Thursday, with Air New Zealand suspending all flights in and out of Hamilton, Blenheim, Nelson, Napier, Rotorua and Tauranga for the night.

Waves up to 5m were expected to hit coastal areas and prompted Civil Defence calls for people to evacuate low-lying and vulnerable coastal areas in the Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel Peninsula earlier in the day.

A mandatory evacuation was earlier ordered in parts of coastal Ohope, along with all campgrounds at the western end of Whakatāne District.

Fears Auckland would be hit by strong winds sent many residents home early but the cyclone moved far east enough to miss the city.

A state of emergency had already been declared in the Bay of Plenty and Thames-Coromandel regions, still suffering from the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Debbie last week.

As it happened on Thursday

3:00am: Heavy rain is picking up in Christchurch.

2:45am: Fire services say they've had a relatively quiet night, with no major cyclone-related callouts since 10:30pm.

2:10am: Cyclone Cook will travel east of Wellington at around 3am, and through Kaikoura at 6am, Metservice says.

Metservice says the storm will weaken as it heads south.

1:46am: Metservice says Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula are on a severe weather watch.

Heavy rain and strong winds can be expected until midday on Friday.

1:05am: The eye of the storm is now off the Wairarapa coastline near Masterton, and is heading down towards the South Island.

A strong wind warning is still in place for Wellington until the morning, and Metservice is warning gales could still reach 120km/h.

12:25pm: Rain systems are now starting to track over Cook Strait.

12:20pm: A 12m wave has been recorded in the off Bay of Plenty coast, by a council owned wave buoy at Pukehina Beach.

12:10am: Wind is picking up around Wellington as Cyclone Cook approaches the capital.

11:24pm: Air New Zealand are being inundated with calls after dozens of flights were cancelled for the night.

11:11pm: Cyclone Cook is ramping up in the lower North Island, with the mean wind speed in Akito over 100km/h.

10:58pm: Nearly 20,000 properties in Hawke’s Bay are without power for the night.

Around 10,000 houses are affected in Napier and over 8000 more in Hastings.

Horizon Networks says infrastructure supplying the Whakatane, Kawerau and Opotiki districts are badly affected, and power cannot be safely restored until at least the morning.

10:35pm: Facebook has activated a safety check option for people near Cyclone Cook's path.

10:24pm: Trees are down across Hawke's Bay, blocking multiple roads around the region.

Police say there’s too many affected roads to name them all, and motorists should avoid driving altogether.

10:17pm: Cyclone Cook is causing damage in the South Island, causing roadslips near Nelson.

The Motueka Valley Highway north of Tapawera is closed and there are also multiple slips on the Takaka Hill.

Police say both areas are impassable and motorists should avoid travel, with more potential hazards as the storm passes over the area.

9:49pm: Two people have been hospitalised after a falling tree struck a car in Hawke’s Bay.

Fire crews had to free the pair from the vehicle on Lucknow Road in Havelock North.

The seriousness of their injuries is unclear.

9:30pm: Cyclone-damaged roads in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato will remain closed for at least the night, the NZ Transport Agency says.

The eastern Bay of Plenty has several closures from fallen power lines and slips. State Highway 29 through the Kaimai Range is also now closed after a large slip.

9:25pm: Police are advising motorists to avoid travelling in Hawke's Bay and Tairawhati, as some roads are completely cut off due to severe weather events.

There are too many roads impacted to name them all, police say, but most are affected by trees coming down.

Motorists should completely avoid travel unless it is essential.

There has been a substantial slip in Bayview, Napier and a diversion is in place on Main North Road.

There are also serious power outages in Hastings and Napier, with thousands of outages listed on Unison's website

Locals have reported that trees and powerlines have fallen across streets in Napier.

Strong wind warnings are in place for Hawke's Bay and Gisborne until early Friday morning, and severe gales of up to 140km/h or more are possible.

9:15pm: Around 10,000 households are now without power in the Hawke's Bay region. 500 are without power in Rotorua.

9:00pm: There are evacuations in Te Aroha after severe flooding.

8:45pm: A further 2000 households on Waiheke Island are off the grid, but Vector says they should be reconnected by 10pm.

8:40pm: NZ Red Cross has set up generators for lights in Whakatane so people can read books and play cards.

8:30pm: Outages are spreading across New Zealand.

8:25pm: Air New Zealand has cancelled all of its flights to and from Rotorua, Tauranga, Hamilton, Blenheim, Nelson and Napier for the rest of the night.

8:15pm: Huka Falls has been turned into a raging monster.

8:05pm: Video posted to social media shows the power of the storm.

8:00pm: MetService has released its latest update.

7:50pm: Roads are underwater in the Bay of Plenty.

7:38pm: Almost 500 people are without power in Napier and nearly 500 customers are in the dark in Rotorua, according to Unison.

6:30pm: Power has been cut at the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence base.

6:10pm: Cyclone Cook has caused power cuts in Whakatane.

5:55pm: NIWA has provided their latest update.

5:40pm: Tauranga is feeling the power of Cyclone Cook.

5:25pm: The wind is picking up as Cyclone Cook arrives.

5:05pm: Newshub's weathercam shows the latest in Auckland.

5:00pm: State Highway 2 has been closed after a large tree fell across the road.

4:50pm: Supermarket shelves are being emptied as NZ goes into lockdown.

4:35pm: Houses are underwater at Whangamata as flooding increases.

4:20pm: The Fire Service is warning people to take care around flames if the power is cut.

3:25pm: NZ Red Cross is helping with the Cyclone Cook evacuations in Whakatane.

3:20pm: The wind on White Island has reached 176km/h.

3:15pm: Cyclone Cook may be bringing devastation to NZ - but these kids don't seem to mind.

3:10pm: Prime Minister Bill English is warning New Zealanders to stay safe.

2:50pm: MetService's pressure map shows extremely strong winds.

2:35pm: Whakatane's vulnerable coastal areas have been ordered evacuated immediately.

2:20pm: The Waikato River is rising in the rain.

1:30pm: Accommodation website Airbnb has initiated its disaster response plan, waiving service fees for the affected parts of the North Island until April 19.

Users can register if they urgently need a place to stay or have a place to offer.

1:05pm: The Department of Conservation has set up a shelter around its Albatross camera on the Otago Peninsula

1:00pm: Due to the wild Cyclone Cook forecast, clairvoyant Kelvin Cruickshank has cancelled his live Dunedin performance.

"Unfortunately due to this weather Kelvin has found himself 'stranded' and won't be able to travel this weekend," iticket says on its website.

12:52pm: A Hamilton local has shared images showing the amount of flooding that has hit the Waikato city since Wednesday. The flooded area is near the Hamilton Gardens.

Hamilton Gardens flooding
The left image shows flooding on Wednesday, and the right image shows the situation on Thursday morning (@qofd / Instagram)

12:40pm: The Defence Force has at least 500 personnel, with planes and trucks on standby to help areas devastated by Cyclone Cook.

"Cyclone Cook is such an event, and the resources - equipment and personnel - that are required are being readied to respond to assist New Zealanders in need," Lieutenant General Keating said.     

"We recognise that the Easter break, which coincides with the school holidays, is a time for families to be together. But this is a time of need and our Defence Force expects its people to help out," Major General Tim Gall said.

12:30pm: Air New Zealand has suspended flights at Tauranga Airport and expects to be unable to operate to and from a number of North Island airports as Cyclone Cook hits the regions.

12:28pm: In Whangamata a BBQ has been picked up by high winds and flown through a window of a house on Pipi Rd, the fire service says.

Firefighters in towns all around the Coromandel are helping with evacuations in low-lying areas. Sandbags are available from the fire station in Whangamata, where the high tide and large swells threaten the beach community.

12:25pm: The closure of Auckland's Harbour Bridge is "less likely" NZTA says.

MetService has now downgraded wind warnings for Auckland. However there may still be some restrictions on travel across the bridge including reduced speeds and lane closures, NZTA says.