Destruction after tornado rips through West Coast settlement

What we know:

  • A small tornado has ripped through a West Coast settlement. It tore through Awatuna just before 6am on Wednesday, smashing rail crossing bells and road signs. The tornado reportedly removed the roof of a house 10km north of Hokitika.
  • This comes after lightning struck a Department of Conservation building and three homes in Auckland's Manukau Heads.
  • The thunderstorm rolling over the North Island is expected to give way to showers for the morning, with storms renewing later in the day.

Follow our live updates below.

12:24pm

Photos have emerged of a devastated kohanga reo at Arahura Pa, north of Hokitika.

Destruction after tornado rips through West Coast settlement
Photo credit: Lisa Tumahai
Destruction after tornado rips through West Coast settlement
Photo credit: Lisa Tumahai

The roof was swept up by the winds, landing on railway lines about 100m away.

With walls missing, broken windows, and debris scattered all around, the building shows the extent of the tornado's force.

Destruction after tornado rips through West Coast settlement
Photo credit: Lisa Tumahai
Destruction after tornado rips through West Coast settlement
Photo credit: Lisa Tumahai

The small tornado ripped through the town, cutting power to the community and carrying neighbours' sheds into a nearby paddock.

Residents said they heard roaring winds and saw debris flying through the air just after 5am.

Destruction after tornado rips through West Coast settlement
Photo credit: Lisa Tumahai

Despite the devastation, no one was injured.

The kohanga reo building was being used for a Whanau Ora community programme. 

11:15am

NIWA Weather tweets "Some thunderstorms rumbling across SH-1 in Northland, south of Paihia".

10:18am

MetService tweets "Woken up by lightning last night? #Thunderbolts #Lightning #veryveryfrightening" with an image of the thousands of lightning bolts striking the country.

9:07am

Heavy rain watch lifted in Waitomo and Tongariro. Heavy rain has eased, although heavy showers and thunder are still possible until late on Wednesday.

8:55am

Two people have been rescued after their car became surrounded by water. The pair had been sleeping in their car at a Waitomo reserve when rapid flooding began.

8:03am

A tornado has removed the roof of a house in Awatuna.

7:22am

The Pureora Forest Park DOC office on Barryville Road has been burnt to the ground after a lightning strike.

6:42am

A Waikato Department of Conservation building is on fire as lightning strikes wreak havoc in the North Island.

Crews from around the district were on Monday morning battling the blaze at the Pureora Forest Park DOC office on Barryville Road, the Fire Service said.

It's just one of a number of buildings across the North Island to have been struck by lightning during wild weather in the early hours of Monday.

Three neighbouring homes in Kohekohe, south of Auckland, had also been hit, with two left smoking and a third with a leak in its roof, the Fire Service said.

Newshub. 

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