Civil Defence is urging New Zealanders to be prepared as Cyclone Gita makes its way south.
The powerful storm is expected to lash the country on Tuesday with high winds, rain and flooding.
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Civil Defence Director Sarah Stuart-Black told The AM Show on Monday we need to be organised for a disaster.
"Now is a really good time to be prepared," she says.
"It's making sure your outdoor furniture and rubbish bins and trampolines are all secured."
Ms Stuart-Black says Kiwis need to have an evacuation plan and a grab-bag of items they may need to take.
"Making sure you have a family plan, a household plan, so that's about having the conversation - what would you do as a family or a household or as a group of flatmates if you didn't have power or your water was out or you had to evacuate."
Gita is expected to hit the southern North Island and the northern half of the South Island worst. There could be slips, coastal inundations and storm surges.
Civil Defence is taking the storm seriously and is sending staff into the areas that will be hit worst.
"We are pre-deploying some of our staff to some of those areas that are looking like they'll be hardest hit," Ms Stuart-Black says.