Official Government update – Cyclone Gabrielle

  • Cyclone Gabrielle will impact much of the North Island with severe gales, heavy rain and very large waves forecast from today through to Tuesday.
  • This is expected to be an unprecedented and dangerous weather event. 
  • MetService has issued severe weather warnings for many parts of the North Island.
  • Keep up to date with MetService weather warnings and advice from your local Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.  
  • Adhere to all advice and instructions from authorities.
  • Cyclone Gabrielle will also exacerbate the impacts for those communities recovering from recent floods
  • Avoid travelling during severe weather, and check Waka Kotahi for road closures. 
  • Do what you can to prepare your household for the coming days.
  • Information about preparing for storms can be found at
  • Call 111 if you feel in any danger.
  • Stay safe. Don't take any chances.

Kiwis in the upper North Island are being urged to take emergency officials' advice seriously as Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand.

The entire North Island is under weather warnings and watches, while the upper South Island is also being warned about wind.

Most weather warnings are currently in place until Tuesday.

What you need to know:

  • MetService has issued several weather watches and warnings across New Zealand. These warnings capture the entire North Island and the top of the South Island.
  • Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is sitting close to Norfolk Island.
  • Kiwis warned to seriously consider preparing to evacuate if they are in an area prone to flooding or could be inundated by a coastal surge.
  • All domestic flights to and from main centres into Auckland have been cancelled, along with a growing list of international flights.
  • Auckland Harbour Bridge is currently closed. 

Useful websites 

These live updates are now over.

10:45pm - Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency - Auckland has provided an update on Auckland and Northland state highways closed overnight due to severe weather.

  • SH1 Akl HBR Bridge (incl. on-ramps and links)
  • SH1 Brynderwyn to Waipu
  • SH1 Mangamuka Gorge

You can check their website for the latest information on state highway closures and disruptions.

10:30pm - Civil Defence Northland has issued its latest update on Sunday.

Many Northlanders are still without power, with wind gusts of more than 100km/h bringing down trees and branches onto power lines.

There are around 8000 connections without power in the Northpower area (Whangarei and Kaipara Districts).

Both Northpower and Top Energy NZ in the Far North advise that customers are currently without power are likely to remain without power overnight.

Red warnings for severe gales and heavy rain remain in place and a further 150 to 250mm of rain is expected for Northland south of about Kaeo through to midnight tomorrow (Monday) night, bringing totals for the event to around 250 to 350mm in this area. Elsewhere in the region, a further 80 to 150 mm of rain is expected.

Waka Kotahi has closed SH1 between Brynderwyn and Waipu due to large slips, with the previous detours now back in place. Light vehicles may detour via Kaiwaka and Mangawhai, while heavy vehicles must detour via SH12/SH14 (via Dargaville).

Further road closures are likely by morning, with slips, tree debris and surface flooding the likely hazards, and extreme caution is advised on the roads, especially through the hours of darkness and first thing in the morning.

Large waves and storm surges causing coastal inundation are also expected.

10:15pm - Auckland Harbour Bridge will likely remain closed over Sunday night and all day Monday due to severe and unpredictable winds from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The bridge was closed at 3:30pm today with wind gusts on the bridge exceeding the threshold for safe use.

And with winds forecast to continue gusting at up to 130km/h or higher throughout Monday it is highly unlikely the bridge will be re-opened to traffic.

"We will not compromise on safety and we will not open the bridge to traffic until is safe to do so," Waka Kotahi National Emergency Response Team spokesperson Mark Owen said.

"The winds from this cyclone are both severe and highly unpredictable, and driving on the bridge in these conditions is simply not safe. As soon as there is a sustained drop in the winds to safe levels we will re-open the bridge, but not before."

The alternate route while the bridge remains closed is the Western Ring Route on State Highways 16 and 18.

"It's important people also check on the latest conditions of the alternate route and other roads before heading out in these conditions, as sustained heavy rainfall is expected over Monday and Tuesday which could result in surface flooding," Owen added

Waka Kotahi is advising against all non-essential travel, and those who must drive should factor in the bridge closure to their planning.

Before travelling, Waka Kotahi urges everyone to check for the very latest weather conditions with MetService, and the latest road closures via the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner.

High winds could also cause delays or cancellations to public transport. To keep up to date on public transport, follow the AT Travel Alerts on Twitter.

10:10pm - Metservice has updated its severe weather warnings. 

10:00pm - National Emergency Management has released some details on what to do if your power goes out, including eating the food in your fridge first.

9:50am - A number of schools across Auckland are closed on Monday but it is hard ot find a complete list of which ones. 

The Ministry of Education has an update here but it doesn't really say anything new. 

Schools are advising parents if they are shut or not so check your emails or other ways they communicate.

9:40pm - Vector's website reports widespread power outages in north Auckland with much of the region currently coloured orange - showing unplanned outages. 

For more details click here.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Vector

9:30pm - Metservice has updated its severe weather warnings with Northland, Auckland and Gisborne still in the firing line for heavy rain. 

It's not looking good for much of the North Island with orange warnings in place.  

For more information click here.

9:20pm - The forecasted big swells and waves have hit the Corromadel, a region that has already suffered this summer due to the endless storms. 

Matthew Davison sent in this image from Hahei Beach. 

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand

9:10pm - Cyclone winds have caused major damage to the Northpower network, much of it from trees falling through lines.

The below picture from the control room shows the extent of damage to our network at 6.30 pm tonight – all lines shown in white, yellow, or green are currently out of action.

Our teams have been out in this weather restoring what they can but the priority today has been making everything safe, with wind gusts over 100km per hour it has not been safe or possible to repair all of the issues.

Earlier today we had over 13,000 households without power, we have managed to get 5,000 back up and running and currently, we have around 8,000 connections without power.

If you are currently without power it is very likely you will be without power overnight, and possibly for several days. 

We expect the weather situation to worsen over the next day or so which will inevitably result in more outages. Until this wind abates it is not safe to begin repairs.

Please be assured we will be doing all we can to restore power as quickly as we can when we can.

9:00pm - Auckland Council says it will close all non-essential services across the region on Monday 13 February and Tuesday 14 February as the region prepares for Cyclone Gabrielle.

The non-essential services affected include libraries, community centres, early childhood education centres, and active recreation centres.

In addition to those service closures, only critical regulatory services activities, such as building assessments, will take place.

Essential services, such as our contact centres and cemeteries, will remain open.

In addition to redirections to CDCs, some staff based in the Waitematā Local Board area will also be redirected to work in the Welfare Call Centre.

Kerbside collections cancelled Monday and Tuesday

Based on the most recent MetService update regarding Cyclone Gabrielle, and the strong wind and rain warnings expected to significantly impact our region, kerbside rubbish, recycling and food scrap collections have also been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

Auckland Council is asking people to hold on to their rubbish, recycling and food scraps until their next scheduled collection. Once collections resume, the normal cycle of collection will apply. This means that residents will have to wait until next week for their usual rubbish collection, and some residents another two weeks for their recycling collection.

Based on current weather reports, the council plans to resume kerbside services on Wednesday 15 February.

- Power is out across parts of Omaha just north of Auckland as Gabrielle makes her way towards the city. 

The popular holiday spot is suffering widespread outages due to the storm. 

Omaha resident Tanya Svendsen posted on a community Facebook page: 

Omaharians please let me know if you are in any difficulties, we have people in the neighbourhood ready to help.

We have the community hall ready to open at any notice.

Please double check around outside that everything is tied down that could cause damage to you and your neighbours property, the winds are expected to get stronger.

Advice is to close all internal doors and pull your blinds, to stop wind gust from popping out windows or doors, and reduce the possibility of broken glass flying around.

Have water containers ready just in case we loose power.

Check in with your neighbours, see if they are here and okay, or if not, check if their properties are  secured.

Stay safe.

8:30pm - More details from Auckland Transport as Aucklanders are being told to stay at home on Monday with train services suspended and the Harbour Bridge likely to close due to extreme wind conditions.

Auckland Transport has issued a statement. 

There are significant disruptions on Auckland’s transport network as high winds from Cyclone Gabrielle are being strongly felt across the region, Auckland Transport says.

KiwiRail, the track owner, has suspended all passenger train services in Auckland from 8pm tonight - for Britomart inbound services and 9pm for Britomart outbound services - to at least 3pm on Monday to protect passengers and train crews.

Due to this late notice, rail replacement buses are not available tomorrow other than those already in place on the Onehunga Line and Southern Line between Otahuhu and Newmarket. People who need to travel will need to use AT’s regular scheduled bus services. Auckland Transport will continue working to source some buses for rail replacement services for tomorrow.

KiwiRail will review conditions tomorrow afternoon, carry out inspections when it is safe to do so, and reopen the rail network as soon as possible.

Scheduled bus services will be running on Monday and Tuesday but there will be some delays, detours and cancellations across the network depending on the impact of the cyclone. For schools which are opening on Monday and Tuesday we will attempt to provide school bus services, but this will depend on the conditions in the morning.

With conditions across the Hauraki Gulf worsening as Cyclone Gabrielle draws nearer Gulf Harbour, Pine Harbour and Rakino Ferries services have been cancelled for this evening. Ferries services are likely to be cancelled at short notice as conditions on the harbour worsen and swells increase. We are unable to guarantee that services will be replaced by buses. AT is in constant contact with ferry operators who are monitoring the weather in real time and will make decisions about ongoing sailings.

Meanwhile the Auckland Harbour Bridge remains closed by Waka Kotahi due to severe winds. At this stage it is expected the closure will remain in place until 10pm due to the likelihood of further strong wind speeds and gusts.

Auckland Transport has put in place a range of detours for bus services which travel across the bridge as a result of the closure.

Auckland Transport’s Executive General Manager Safety Stacey van der Putten says the train service suspension and closure of the Harbour Bridge reiterates the seriousness of the current weather event.

"We are continuing to urge Aucklanders to stay at home between now and Tuesday unless there is an absolutely urgent need for them to travel today," Ms van der Putten says.

"We are also urging Aucklanders to plan to work from home if they are able to on Monday and Tuesday, when the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle are likely to be felt even more strongly across Auckland.

"With the Harbour Bridge now closed we are working to urgently reroute our bus services which use the bridge so that we can continue to transport those Aucklanders needing to travel today.

"If you must travel today or in coming days, please check the AT website for updates about road closures and disruptions to public transport services, and ensure you make a plan to get home safely too."

For information and updates please use the following:

  • For updates on the overall transport network and travel advice visit the AT website at

  • For detailed public transport travel information and journey planning – visit the AT Mobile app and Journey Planner

8:20pm - Auckland Transport has issued an update on public transport for Monday: 

Buses will be running tomorrow, but there are likely to be some last minute cancellations and disruptions throughout the day due to high winds, road closures and detours;

Significant detours are currently in place for North Shore bus services affected by the Harbour Bridge closure. These detours will stay in place for as long as the bridge is closed, and will be reinstated there are further closures in coming days.

Some ferries will be running and operators will be making decisions about cancellations depending on conditions on the harbour, with heavy swells expected it’s likely there will be significant numbers of cancellations;

All trains will be cancelled between approximately 8pm tonight and 3pm Monday afternoon because of a precautionary KiwiRail closure of the rail network to ensure the safety of passengers and train crews.

8:10pm - There is an update from Vector about the latest power outages. There are around 15000 customers without power and that number is expected to rise over the next few days. 

The full statement is below" 

Cyclone Gabrielle has started to make itself felt with widespread power outages, particularly in exposed areas across north Auckland. Our crews are responding as quickly and safely as they can, given the current weather conditions. 

As of 7pm, around 15,000 customers were without power. This number will change constantly as we restore homes and businesses but, with the weather due to worsen, we expect further outages overnight and tomorrow.  

The safety of our crews and the public is paramount. We have been preparing for Cyclone Gabrielle since the initial warnings began and have plenty of crews ready. Given the severity of the forecasts, we will sometimes have to stand crews down for their own safety.  

We anticipate that some repairs will be complex and potentially complicated by challenges such as road access caused by fallen trees or slips.  We encourage customers to be prepared to be without power for some time. If you haven’t done so already, now is a good time to ensure your phones, power banks and other devices are fully charged and you have a torch handy.  

Any customers across Auckland with welfare concerns should contact Civil Defence directly.  

We would like to remind everyone of the importance of staying well clear of fallen power lines or damaged electrical equipment, and to treat them as live at all times. ​People using medical equipment that relies on electricity should let their retailer know if they are without power. If there is an immediate health threat, they should contact their health provider or call 111.​  

We would like to thank the public for their understanding and patience as our crews work within the limits of what is safe and practical to restore their power, and urge communities to take care and follow advice as the wild weather continues.  

For more information check: 

Vector -

Counties Energy -

8:00pm - Matt Watson the Fishing Guy has posted a very windy video from Northland where the full force of Cyclone Gabrielle is being felt.

7:40pm - A new map from WeatherWatch shows the current position of Cyclone Gabrielle, as of 7:30pm, is directly north of the tip of New Zealand.

7:35pm - If you need to check where power outages are in Auckland, you can do so on either the Vector or Counties Manukau website, depending on your area.

Power outages are spread quite broadly across the two different areas.

7:15pm - Here's an update from the Department of Conservation on closing its facilities across the North Island as the cyclone approaches:

Department of Conservation facilities throughout Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and the Hawke’s Bay have been closed to the public as Cyclone Gabrielle heads toward the country.

These facilities include DOC offices, tracks, huts, campsites and visitor centres.   

The cyclone, which formed northeast of Australia, is travelling in a southeasterly direction, and several forecasting models show it passing over the North Island. It has the potential to pack winds of up to 150kmh, accompanied by extensive persistent heavy rain.

DOC's Deputy Director-General Organisation Support, Mike Tully, says that the Department's priority is the safety and wellbeing of their staff, visitors, contractors, and volunteers. 

"DOC staff across the country have been working tirelessly over the past few days to prepare and understand what the effects of the cyclone may mean for visitors, public conservation land and assets. 

"Those weather impacts create a risk to people in the outdoors, we are strongly urging the public to stay home, stay safe and hunker down.

"The great outdoors is not the place to be in a cyclone."

DOC staff will need to carry out assessments on assets once the cyclone has passed the country, and this work will dictate when huts, campsites and tracks can be reopened to the public. 

Visitors should keep an eye on the dedicated page of the DOC website for weather-related updates.

Road updates are available from and

For more information on what to do before, during and after a storm, visit:

7pm - NIWA says that for some, rainfall totals from Cyclone Gabrielle will be "unprecedented".

"Flooding and slips will increase as the event unfolds," they tweeted.

"Rivers and streams will rise rapidly. Purple [indicated in the map embedded below] means extremely high flows and greatest risk for river flooding.

"Follow advice from emergency officials."

6:50pm - Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has issued a message to Aucklanders, saying Sunday is the last night to get ready before Cyclone Gabrielle hits.

"There will be dangerous river conditions, significant flooding and slips," he wrote in the text-only video message.

"Travel will be disrupted. Some roads will become impassable and some communities may be isolated.

"Make sure you prepare your homes and property as best you can and have a plan in place in case you need to evacuate."

6:40pm - According to MetService, over the past 24 hours, Whangārei Airport has reported 109mm of rainfall.

6:30pm - Here's an update from Auckland Emergency Management on Civil Defence centres and shelters that are opening from 7pm:

Twenty-seven Civil Defence Centres and Shelters will be open from 7pm this evening to provide a refuge for families who need to leave their homes to shelter from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Auckland Emergency Management has established centres or shelters in all Local Board areas across Tāmaki Makaurau.

A further 12 community-lead centres are being stood up by community groups, at marae, in local churches or in local buildings.

Civil Defence Centres, sometimes called a CDC, offer a safe place to eat, sleep and access essential support services. Anyone heading to a local CDC is asked to bring a grab bag with essentials that their whānau will need to get through – clothing, medication, documents and ID, important items for the children or babies. Supplies at CDCs will be limited. Dogs that are on a leash and controlled at all times and contained cats will be welcome at CDC and Shelter sites.

Shelters provide a place to be safe while the worst of the weather passes. Blankets and hot drinks will be available but shelters aren’t equipped for extended stays.

Community-lead centres are supervised by community leaders and are not run by Auckland Emergency Management. People are asked to check the group’s website or Facebook page, if they have one, before you visit one of these community-lead centres.

Locations are listed at

Anyone needing flooding assistance should call 0800 22 22 00. Please call 111 if your life is in danger.

6:25pm - Hauraki Gulf Weather says the Channel Island wind observation in the Gulf is recording sustained winds of 124 km/h, gusting to 146 km/h.

"In the tropics sustained winds from 118–157 km/h is category 3 status," Hauraki Gulf Weather said on Twitter.

5:45pm - The New Zealand Muslim Association has opened its mosques across Auckland as emergency shelters for people that are affected by the floods and cyclone.

People are asked to bring along their own sleeping bag and blanket. Separate areas will be dedicated for men and women.

The mosques open as shelters are:

  • Birkenhead Islamic Centre: 79 Onewa Rd, Northcote
  • Ponsonby Mosque: 17 Vermont St, Ponsonby
  • West Auckland Mosque: 31 Armada Dr, Ranui
  • Kelston Mosque: 45 Cartwright Rd, Kelston
  • Avondale Islamic Centre: 122-126 Blockhouse Bay Rd, Avondale.

5:25pm - Tauranga City Council has activated its emergency operations centre ahead of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The centre will run from 9am on Monday to 3pm on Tuesday.

"Our staff and contractors are keeping a watchful eye on the situation and are ready to respond to any issues," Tauranga City Council said.

"If you live in low-lying areas prone to flooding, including the coast and harbourside, please take steps to protect yourself and your property as there is a risk of storm surge flooding and erosion.

"Be prepared to self-evacuate to family and friends if needed in the first instance. If any evacuation of people is required, please follow all instructions from Bay of Plenty Civil Defence. Emergency shelters will be activated if required, and details will be provided."

Links Avenue in Mount Maunganui will be open to all traffic on Monday and Tuesday to assist with traffic flow around the Mount Maunganui area.

Kerbside collections scheduled for Monday will go ahead as usual, the council said.

"Please don't put out your bins until Monday morning and bring them in as soon as you can. Please assist your neighbours by bringing in their bins too if you can. This situation will be reviewed again for Tuesday collections," they said.

"Our supply of sandbags has been exhausted and we do not have any available tonight. We will have an update on sandbags in the morning. Information on where you can purchase sandbags is available on our website"

Tauranga City Council added that people should tie down their trampolines and secure outdoor furniture, including barbecues, as well as checking gutters and clearing drains.

"Other tips include having a grab bag ready and having enough supplies for tide you over for a few days if we experience any power outages and disruption to our roading and water networks," the council said.

"This includes having enough supplies to care for your pets. More information about how to get ready can be found on our website

"If you think any of your whānau, friends or neighbours might need help with some this, please get in touch and offer a helping hand."

5:20pm - Here's an update from Fire and Emergency:

Fire crews are responding to a slow but steady stream of 111 calls for assistance as winds are strengthening from Northland to the Coromandel and beyond. Fire and Emergency has three communications centres across country, connected by a virtual network which means calls can be answered from anywhere when the workload increases in any particular region.

Gavin Travers, National Manager of the Communications Centres, says crews responded to 31 calls for help related to the weather between 6am and 4pm. Most were from Northland but in the last hour the number of calls from Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula have started to increase.

Most of the incidents are related to the winds, with fallen trees affecting property and roofs lifting. One of this morning's calls was to help an owner secure his caravan from being blown over. There have been at least two calls in Auckland to help property owners when trees have fallen onto houses.

Fire and Emergency is reminding people to call 111 when life or personal safety is threatened. That includes when there is a fire, when people are trapped by floodwater, slips or fallen trees and when people need help to evacuate safely.

5:10pm - State Highway 11 in Paihia between Te Karuwha Pde and Kings Rd has reopened, following prior flooding.

5pm - According to Vector, there are a number of power outages in northwest and north Auckland. 

Waiheke Island is also largely without power, as are pockets of east and west Auckland.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Vector

4:50pm - Countdown is closing a number of its stores early as Cyclone Gabrielle approaches.

At this stage, all store will reopen as normal tomorrow.

The stores closing early are:

  • Countdown Paihia Central (already closed)
  • Countdown Warkworth (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Waitangi (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Tikipunga (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Regent (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Whangārei (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Whitianga (closes at 7pm)
  • Countdown Gisborne (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Katikati (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Kaikohe (closes at 8pm)
  • Countdown Kerikeri (closes at 8pm).

"We know it's a worrying time for many and our thoughts are with all those in the North Island as the cyclone starts to make its way down the country," a Countdown spokesperson said.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and would like to thank our customers in advance for their understanding as we work to keep everyone safe."

4:30pm - A state of emergency has been declared in Northland. Here's more on that from the Northland Regional Council: 

A precautionary state of emergency has been declared for Northland as at 4.30pm Sunday 12 February, for an initial period of seven days, as part of the regional response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

The emergency declaration was requested by Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group Controller Graeme MacDonald and signed by CDEM Group chair Kelly Stratford. An Emergency Mobile Alert advising of the declaration is being sent to phones in Northland which are capable of receiving the alerts.

Mr MacDonald says emergency declarations are relatively rare in Northland, with only six emergency declarations in the past 50 years, some of which affected only parts of the region. (The most recent declaration was less than a fortnight ago on 31 January and covered the entire region.)

"Declaring an emergency is a step under our legislation which allows the Civil Defence Controller and/or those to whom they delegate authority, access to emergency powers, granting authority to protect life and property in extraordinary emergency events under the Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Act 2002."

The most commonly-used emergency powers include evacuating premises and places, entering premises, closing roads and public places, removing aircraft, vessels, vehicles etc and requisitioning property, equipment, material or supplies. Of these, enabling evacuations is often the key reason for an emergency declaration.

Mr MacDonald says the MetService has today (12 February) issued rare red warnings, used for the most severe events, forecasting both severe winds and rain in the coming days.

Its red rain warning covers the period from 10am today until 12am Tuesday 14 February and predicts 200-300mm of rain south of Kaeo and 100-180mm north of Kaeo over this time.

The red wind warning is valid from noon today to 9pm Tuesday 14 February. The MetService is forecasting severe gales, with gusts reaching 120 to 130 kmh (or possibly higher) from Monday depending on Cyclone Gabrielle's track.

"Winds should initially be east to southeast, then are expected to turn south to southwest later on Monday and into Tuesday."

Mr MacDonald says at this stage officials still don't know for sure that they will need to make use of the emergency powers an emergency declaration gives them, but given the worst of the forecast weather has yet to come, had made the decision to make the declaration as a precaution.

"This will ensure we have those extra powers available to us should we need them."

Northland Civil Defence - along with all of the region's emergency services and partner agencies - continue to urge Northlanders to take the current weather event very seriously.

Emergency services and partner agencies such councils and contractors, health and welfare agencies have all been making co-ordinated preparations, holding regular briefings and sharing information. PoliceFire and Emergency, Hato Hone St John and NZ Defence Force have all brought additional personnel and equipment into the region.

Mr MacDonald asked Northlanders to continue to stay up-to-date with weather forecasts and official information, have a plan in case they need to evacuate, check on neighbours, avoid non-essential travel and take extreme care if it was necessary to be on the roads.

Civil Defence will be keeping a close eye on the weather as it develops and will post any key updates on its Facebook page

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

4:15pm - State Highway 1 between Brynderwyn and Waipu will close overnight from 6pm.

Waka Kotahi said due to the amount of rainfall today and forecasted overnight, and the risk of slips, the decision has been made to close the road to keep everyone, including their crews, safe. The road may be closed earlier if deemed unsafe, they added.

Waka Kotahi crews will reassess the road in the morning to check if it is safe to open again.

"Detours will be in place overnight for light vehicles via Mangawhai and Waipu, and for heavy vehicles via SH12 and SH14," Waka Kotahi said.

"Waka Kotahi is advising people in all areas affected by the predicted heavy rain and strong winds to avoid any non-urgent travel, and if you must travel make sure you're checking for the very latest weather conditions with MetService, and the latest road closures via the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner.

"Journey Planner is updated 24/7 by Waka Kotahi traffic operations centres, and is the best source of the most recent and reliable information available on state highway closures and disruptions. Remember to refresh the page when checking the status of highways to ensure that the latest updates are displayed.

"Waka Kotahi is also urging anyone who does need to drive in areas affected by severe weather to adjust their driving to the conditions, which means slowing down, increasing following distances, switching headlights on and watching for flooding and other debris on the road."

4:10pm - Hawke's Bay Civil Defence is warning residents to get ready for Cyclone Gabrielle. Here's their update:

The Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (HBCDEM) is monitoring and preparing for potential impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle, and warning communities to get ready for the severe weather it may bring to the region.

MetService is expecting Cyclone Gabrielle to bring significant heavy rain, potentially damaging winds and large waves to many parts of the country, starting in the north today and spreading to other parts of northern and central New Zealand early next week. 

Hawke's Bay is currently under an Orange Heavy Rain Warning for the 24-hour period from 10am Monday, 13 February to 10am Tuesday, 14 February, and a Strong Wind Warning for the 19-hour period from 5pm Monday, to noon Tuesday. 

Group Controller Edaan Lennan said that HBCDEM had already moved to a formal 'Monitoring' mode of operation on Friday morning and will be escalating to a 'Coordinating' mode at 8am on Monday. This will involve local council Emergency Operation Centres being activated at a local level and the Group Emergency Coordination Centre working to coordinate the response across the region.

"Hawke's Bay residents need to be prepared for heavy rain, strong winds and large waves," Edaan Lennan said.

"We were briefed by senior MetService meteorologists this morning, and their advice is that Gabrielle will be a significant event, especially in the northern and central parts of the North Island.

"We have been taking a precautionary and proactive approach by preparing our communities and ourselves for any potential weather impacts," Edaan Lennan said.

Edaan Lennan said HBCDEM had been working closely with NEMA, MetService New Zealand, Civil Defence Groups around the country and councils and partner agencies in Hawke's Bay to track Cyclone Gabrielle and prepare for potential impacts.

"We've had several days of planning, national briefings and regional coordination meetings and we've started contacting our community champions," Edaan Lennan said.

"We are completing the finishing touches of preparation and planning today, so we are ahead of the ball and in a strong and ready position for any potential weather that comes our way tomorrow.

"Councils have activated their Incident Management Teams and will be standing up Emergency Operations Centres, and are preparing their infrastructure, staff, and community facilities for possible impacts," Edaan Lennan said.

Edaan Lennan said there is still some uncertainty with the exact track of the weather system, and changes in direction and speed will have a large effect on outcomes and impacts.

Potential impacts of the severe weather could be power outages, road and transportation damage, and coastal inundation from swells in some areas. 

"We're urging people in the region, particularly in our rural communities, to be prepared and to have a plan in place to respond to heavy rain and wind," Edaan Lennan said.

"Now is the time to get your whānau and your household ready.

"Prepare for the possibility of power cuts and road closures. Have a grab bag in case you need to evacuate. If you don't have a household emergency plan, sit down and have a prep talk with your family and housemates about what you'll do to support each other in an emergency.

"Ensure you have enough food, fuel and supplies for at least three days and please reach out to your neighbours and anyone who might need your help.

"Everyone in Hawke's Bay needs to keep up-to-date with the forecast and conditions over the next few days.

"Stay aware, keep your wits about you, and if you feel like your life, safety or property is at risk, call 111 immediately and heed the advice to keep yourself safe. Stay with friends and family if you can, keep connected and look out for your neighbours," Edaan Lennan said.

People are advised to stay up-to-date with forecasts at MetService, and check for updates on the HBCDEM Facebook page and website.

4:05pm - A Civil Defence alert has been sent to people's phones in the Thames-Coromandel District.

It advises people about the strong winds and heavy rain that are coming, as well as the potential for power outages, land instability, and surface flooding.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

3:55pm - A number of Auckland schools have announced they are closing on Monday, with some even extending this closure to include Tuesday.

The Ministry of Education says boards, principals, early learning services, and tertiary education providers are "in the best position" to decide whether it's safe to continue with on-site learning.

Schools that have announced they are closing on Monday include Maraetai Beach SchoolPapatoetoe North School, and Massey Primary School. Schools closed on both Monday and Tuesday include Mount Roskill Grammar School and Avondale College.

The Ministry of Education asks families to check their school or centre's website or Facebook page to see when they're opening.

3:40pm - Auckland Transport says the Harbour Bridge is now closed to all traffic. All bus services will hold their position at a safe place until further notice.

3:10pm - Hauraki Gulf Weather says either side of the gulf is now gusting up to around 77 knots, which is 142km/h.

3:05pm - WeatherWatch has released a rain accumulation video - made by the meteorological team at IBM - for the coming days as Cyclong Gabrielle closes in.

3pm - Thousands of homes are without power in the Far North.

A map from Top Energy shows how widespread the outages are.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Top Energy.

2:55pm - NIWA says waves in northern New Zealand near the centre of Cyclone Gabrielle are over 12 metres high.

On Monday and Tuesday, five to eight metre waves are likely in the northern and eastern North Island and coastal conditions will be "very dangerous".

NIWA says the hazards from Cyclone Gabrielle are:

  • Erosion will likely be a big issue along exposed coasts
  • Bay of Plenty & Hawke's Bay: waves will be very large and heading straight toward the shore
  • It helps that there is a neap tide and not a spring tide - "but don't take the storm lightly".

2:50pm - Auckland Emergency Management is giving a reminder to disabled or elderly people that they need to have a plan for the next few days.

"Please call 0800 22 22 00 for urgent flooding issues and assistance, or 111 if your life is at risk," they said on Twitter.

"Please contact your service providers and personal support systems if you need help. We are working with our partner agencies such as health and NZDF to ensure we can evacuate people if needed.

"Make sure you have enough supplies of prescription medication to get you through the next week, and please contact your GP if you're concerned about health issues.

"If you rely on electricity for medical devices, stay in touch with your health provider and your electricity provider and arrange a back-up power supply or contingency plan."

2:45pm - In Paihia, Northland, the road between Te Kauwhata Pde and Kings Rd is closed due to flooding.

Waka Kotahi said people should delay their journey if possible or use an alternative route.

2:33pm - Hipkins again urges people to take this cyclone seriously and follow all guidance that officials give.

The press conference is now over.

2:31pm - "Weather is notoriously unpredictable," Hipkins warns.

He said people need to have a grab bag ready to go in case they have to evacuate.

He also encourages people to minimise the traffic on the roads, so if this means working from home for some people, then they should consider that.

2:29pm - Hipkins said he's confident there will be a 24/7 transport response and people can be assured there will be communications on the weather.

2:26pm - Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has arrived for his press conference.

He said his main message to people across New Zealand is to take weather warnings seriously and follow all guidance.

"There's no need for panic-buying. Supermarkets will stay open ... so people will still be able to access the essentials they need," Hipkins said.

"Shop for a couple of days, not a couple of months."

2:25pm - Auckland Emergency Management has just sent an alert to people's phones. Here's an update from them on that:

Auckland Emergency Management has issued an Emergency Mobile Alert (EMA) to provide important safety messages ahead of Cyclone Gabrielle arriving in the Auckland region. 

Aucklanders are asked to self-evacuate to high ground if they see rising flood water or if they feel unsafe. The alert also directs Aucklanders not to travel unless necessary and to make an emergency plan for themselves and their homes.

MetService has issued a Red Heavy Rain Warning and a Red Strong Wind Warning for Auckland here:

Auckland Emergency Management Controller Adam Maggs says “This will be a significant weather event with potentially widespread damage. We’re urging people to get themselves and their homes prepared today, so they are ready for the worse of the weather tomorrow and Tuesday”

People in the Auckland region are advised to:

  • Keep up to date and be aware of the latest forecast at
  • Do not travel unless necessary. Check road conditions if you do have to travel
  • Floods and flash floods can happen quickly. Act immediately if you see rising water – do not wait for official warnings. Head for higher ground and stay away from flood water
  • Check for updates and information. Listen to emergency services and self-evacuate if you feel unsafe
  • If life is in danger, call 111 immediately.

Any further updates will be posted to the Auckland Emergency Management social media channels. 

EMAs are delivered to phones in reach of selected cell tower locations. Given the location of this system, most of the population of Auckland will have received this EMA, though some people outside the warning area may also receive the EMA. More information on how EMAs work, including troubleshooting, is available on the Get Ready website

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

2:20pm - Prime Minister Chris Hipkins is currently visiting the Auckland Transport hub.

He is also due to speak to media at about 2:30pm. We will stream this in our video player above when this happens.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

2:15pm - There is a downed line and tree in Matapouri, which is north of Whangārei.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.
Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.
Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

2:10pm - Supermarkets are getting cleared out.

Below is a photo from Countdown in Ponsonby.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Supplied

2pm - Here's an update from Auckland Airport on flight cancellations:

Flight cancellations have started to ramp up to and from Auckland Airport, with anyone with travel over the next two days encouraged to watch carefully for updates from their airline or travel agent.

In recent hours, three airlines have cancelled flights: Air New Zealand (multiple flights); Fiji Airways (today's flight to Nadi); and American Airlines (tomorrow's inbound and outbound flight from/to Dallas Fort Worth).

"We are not aware of any other airline cancellations at this stage, but we know this is a rapidly evolving situation and those decisions are under active review by airlines," said Scott Tasker, Chief Customer Officer at Auckland Airport.

"Customers who are travelling today, tomorrow and Tuesday should be prepared for short notice disruptions to travel plans. Our advice is to please monitor your email for any messages from airlines and travel agents about delayed or disrupted flights, along with your travel app for flight updates. Airlines will always hold the most up-to-date information on how weather is affecting flight schedules.

"We also recommend travellers check on their flight status before coming to Auckland Airport. If your flight is cancelled or delayed, it's always best to get in touch with airlines directly through online channels rather than visiting the airport to rebook travel. Airline representation outside check in time can be limited with airline employees unable to make changes to travel bookings."

Auckland Airport terminals have been busy this morning with normal flight operations underway.

Air NZ has announced multiple long-haul international departures and arrivals into Auckland Airport on Monday have been cancelled, including Tasman and Pacific Island flights.

All domestic jet services to and from main centres into Auckland Airport have also been cancelled, with the flight cancellations for turboprop aircraft extended from today through to midday Tuesday. 

1:55pm - Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick says she's asked education officials about school closures, but has been advised there isn't a directive to schools like there was for the previous storm.

In an update, the Ministry of Education's secretary for education Iona Holsted said she has been received regular updates on the weather situation.

"It is clear that we are facing a severe and widespread event, with heavy rain warnings, associated flooding, high winds and power outages.

"I know you will have been following reports, including the need for people to avoid unnecessary travel and shelter in place if possible. I am also aware that you have had the opportunity to plan for the cyclone.

"Given this, Boards and Principals are in the best position to decide when it is safe for on-site teaching and learning and to communicate that with your community."

1:50pm - Northland Fire and Emergency says it's sent extra urban search and rescue (USAR) teams to Northland, where they will be working alongside local firefighters to help communities through the cyclone.

"They are equipped for light rescue and experienced in rapid damage assessments," they said on Facebook.

"One team including a paramedic will be based in Kaitaia. Another, which includes water rescue capability and drone operators, are based in Whangārei.

"Here's a photo of some of the team loading their gear in Auckland before their early morning departure."

1:40pm - Here's an update from Foodstuffs on Cyclone Gabrielle:

Foodstuffs stores are open today.  Depending on what happens with the track of Cyclone Gabrielle, some stores may change opening and closing times during the weather event - so we're encouraging customers to check their local store's Facebook page, or website for the latest before they leave home. 

FYI we have plenty of stock on hand, empty shelves in-store are often due to our store teams not being able to replenish fast enough

We appreciate your continued support in explaining that we have enough stock, and encouraging customers to only buy what they need for 2-3 days as this means fellow shoppers can get their fair share when they shop.

Our priority is always to keep our teams and customers safe - take care over the coming days. 

1:35pm - This press conference has finished.

1:33pm - Griffiths, from MetService, said while there's less rainfall, it will still cause impacts given how wet the ground still is from the weather event a few weeks ago. 

1:29pm - Kelleher is now speaking again.

An emergency alert is going to be sent to all phones in the Auckland region very soon, she said. This is to warn people of the dangers of Cyclone Gabrielle.

1:25pm - Stacey van der Putten from Auckland Transport is now speaking.

She reiterated that the Auckland Harbour Bridge could close at any time and that there are currently speed restrictions in place.

The public transport network is continuing to operate, although this could change depending on how the weather changes.

Van der Putten said the goal is to keep public transport working, but they will take a risk-based approach to keep both customers and workers safe.

1:21pm - Vaughan Mackereth from Fire and Emergency is now speaking.

So far today, they have responded to a "small number" of 111 calls in Northland.

He shared advice, including for people to get ready at home now. This means tying down trampolines or anything that could move around.

Additionally, he said once the storm hits, people should stay at home. He added that people shouldn't drive through floodwaters, because you can't tell how deep they are.

Mackereth said people should only call 111 if there is a threat to their life or they can't evacuate safely.

1:20pm - The potential for storm surge will be the last thing to come, Griffiths said.

"Don't be fooled if you're not affected until Tuesday," she said. "Today is the good day."

1:19pm - Griffiths said "severe" southwest gales will arrive on Tuesday. It's expected that everyone in Auckland will get this gale.

She said red weather warnings are not issued lightly and it will depend on where people live as to whether they're more affected by the wind or rain.

1:16pm - Georgina Griffiths from MetService is now speaking.

She is running through the different weather warnings for the Auckland region.

While Auckland is having a wet and windy Sunday, Griffiths said "this is just the entrée" and about 200-250mm of rain is expected.

Monday will be a significant day for rain, where 25-40mm of rain in an hour is expected.

Griffiths said Aucklanders should plan for flooding and slip impacts, and people should "count themselves lucky" if they don't see either of these.

1:15pm - Kelleher hopes that kerbside rubbish collections will return on Wednesday.

If people need to get rid of rubbish outside of their normal collection days, it can be dropped off at rubbish sites around the city.

1:12pm - Kelleher said that so far, 286 homes are red-stickered, 1689 are yellow-stickered, and 2600+ are white-stickered.

1:09pm - Kelleher is now speaking. She said the Auckland Emergency Management team has been preparing for this event, as well as recovering from the previous storm a few weeks ago.

So far, Auckland Emergency Management has provided 370 households with emergency accommodation.

Kelleher warned that this will be a "severe and potentially devastating weather event".

1:07pm - Brown said it's been "intense" work over the past few days getting ready for this weather event. 

He said he's well aware of the remote areas that will be affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and these places are included in preparation plans.

1:05pm - Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson is now speaking. She says "there will be destruction" from this cyclone.

She encourages people who need help to reach out. The number to call is 0800 22 22 00.

Simpson said they've prepared as best they can for this, including by cleaning drains in known flooding areas, and more.

1:03pm - Rachel Kelleher, Auckland Emergency Management deputy controller, as well as Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson, and other officials.

Brown is speaking first, and said Cyclone Gabrielle will be a "challenging time for all of us".

He said emergency services are on high alert and are ready to respond.

He urges people to check on neighbours and family members who may need help.

12:55pm - Auckland Emergency Management is giving an update at 1pm.

You can watch that in the video player above, and we'll be updating this page here.

Refresh the page if you can't see the press conference in the video player.

12:50pm - Business owners and residents in Tutukaka are anxiously awaiting Cyclone Gabrielle. There have already been some brief power outages there.

"Got a couple of generators here, water on supply, and sent all the team home. We've encouraged them to go and hunker down," Kate Malcolm, Dive Tutukaka owner, told Newshub.

"We've got high tides at the moment. Lots of rain. We're expecting slips and road closures. Tutukaka entrance definitely will flood. Normally I'll say, 'No, we're fine'. But in the last couple of years - nope, we know we're not fine in these conditions. We're kind of preparing for the worst.

"The direction of the wind at the moment is 60+ knots currently in Tutukaka and we haven't even had the cyclone yet. It comes straight down the marina so it's full noise on us. That sustained pressure from the high winds on the boats and lines - you're just expecting something to ping.

"Stuff is stuff, but people you can't replace. That's what I'm most concerned about."

12:35pm - InterCity, New Zealand's national bus network, says it is closely monitoring Cyclone Gabrielle and is advising passengers they will contact them with updates should services be disrupted or cancelled. 

Three InterCity daytime services have been cancelled for Sunday, with the company set to make decisions on afternoon services shortly.

The Sunday and Monday overnight services between Auckland and Wellington have also been cancelled as a precaution. 

"We are monitoring Waka Kotahi updates closely and will keep passengers informed as we make decisions on services over the next few days," said InterCity's chief operations officer Sam Peate.

Customers are advised to check the InterCity website for details. 

Cancelled Services Sunday February 12: 

  • IC 7325 Kerikeri to Auckland  
  • IC 7326 Auckland to Kerikeri 
  • IC 6609 Auckland to Hastings  
  • IC6503 – Auckland – Wellington (Overnight Service) 
  • IC 6504 – Wellington – Auckland (Overnight Service) 

Cancelled Services Monday February 13:

  • IC 6503 – Auckland – Wellington (Overnight Service) 
  • IC 6504 – Wellington – Auckland (Overnight Service) 

12:25pm - Here's an update from Air New Zealand on flight cancellations: 

Updated weather reports show cyclone Gabrielle will bring very strong winds and heavy rainfall to Auckland tomorrow and Tuesday.

Air New Zealand Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan says to keep customers, staff and aircraft safe, the airline has made additional cancellations.

"We continue to do everything we can to minimise the impact on our schedule, however in preparation for strong fluctuating crosswinds, for the safety of our staff and customers, international arrivals and departures from tomorrow morning through till midday Tuesday will be extremely limited," says Captain Morgan.

"We've cancelled five long-haul international arrivals into Auckland tomorrow as well departures. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Singapore arrivals are operating as normal but may be required to divert to another New Zealand port."

"All Tasman and Pacific Island flights tomorrow have also been cancelled."

"In addition, all flights to, from or through Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Taupo are cancelled through till midday Tuesday. We'd like to thank customers for their continued understanding if their plans are impacted."

"Given that the trajectory and strength of cyclone Gabrielle is fluid, customers should prepare for further flight cancellations. Our priority is the safety of our customers, staff and infrastructure and we will only operate flights if it's safe to do so."

Air New Zealand is asking customers to please refrain from calling its contact centre as they're working hard to reaccommodate customers. Direct message the airline on its social media channels, WhatsApp or postpone calling for a few days.

To quickly reaccommodate customers once normal operations resume, Air New Zealand is already exploring use of larger aircraft and increasing capacity to destinations that need it the most.

Air New Zealand will provide further updates to customers directly via the Air New Zealand app and post updates on our travel alerts page. Updates in the app may take some time as the airline works through the cancellations.

Flight cancellations recap

  • All flights to or from Kerikeri and Whangarei between midday today and Tuesday morning are cancelled
  • All turboprop flights to, from or through Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Taupo from midday today through to midday Tuesday are cancelled
  • Last flights into Hamilton and Tauranga tonight are cancelled
  • Five long-haul international arrivals into Auckland on Monday are cancelled - New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Singapore still operating
  • Long-haul international departures from Auckland on Monday are cancelled
  • All Tasman and Pacific Island flights tomorrow are cancelled

These schedule adjustments will cause significant flow on effects while the airline works through getting customers on those services to their original destinations and crew and planes back where they need to be. This may take a few days to recover.

Advice for customers

The airline is advising those with non-urgent travel between Sunday 12 February and Friday 17 February 2023 make use of the flexibility policy. Customers can either hold their fare in credit for 12 months or rebook in the same class of travel between Sunday 12 February 2023 and Wednesday 22 February 2023 without fare difference, penalty or service fees.

  • The AirNZ app is the easiest way for customers to stay up to date with flight details and changes
  • Most customers can self-serve via the Manage Booking tab on the Air New Zealand website
  • Internationals customers who are impacted will be notified and rebooked to the next best alternative as soon as possible
  • If a customer is part way to their final destination and their onward travel is impacted, Air New Zealand will contact customers to support with accommodation requirements
  • As the contact centre is experiencing extremely high call volumes, we ask that only those with travel over the next 24 hours contact us directly
  • The airline's travel alerts page has the most up to date information on operating flights - our contact centre team do not have any more information than this
  • If your flight is cancelled, please do not travel to the airport - staff at the airport are unable to rebook customers

Customers who booked through a travel agent or third-party online agent should contact them directly about making changes to their bookings or credit validity.

Air New Zealand would like to thank customers for their patience and support while it works through these significant disruptions.

The airline is focused on managing these impacts for our customer and will not be able to provide specific flight details or impacted customer numbers at this time.

12:20pm - In Long Bay, north Auckland, some people are taking sand off the beach in a desperate attempt to get sandbags in time, a Newshub reporter at the scene said.

There is also a storm surge happening there and Long Bay Creek is getting close to spilling over, the reporter added.

12:15pm - WeatherWatch has released a new map showing the peak winds for Auckland over Sunday and Monday.

"Auckland doesn't often get gale S to SE winds either - so strong winds from this direction are a bit untested (we often have SW & Easterly gales)," they said on Twitter.

11:55am - While high tide isn't until 12:40pm, Tutukaka Harbour getting very close to spilling onto the road.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.
Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

11:35am - A video posted to Twitter shows just how heavy the downpour is getting in Whangārei.

11:20am - All lanes have now reopened on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, although reduced speed limits remain in place.

"Extra care is required for all vehicles. High-sided vehicles and motorcycles please consider delaying your journey or detour via SH18/SH16," Waka Kotahi said.

11:05am - Steve, pictured below, has lived at his Buffalo Beach property in Coromandel since 2009. While he's never been flooded before, he's preparing for the worst by sandbagging the house.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub.

10:35am - Surf Life Saving New Zealand is calling on Kiwis in the upper North Island to stay away from the coast and beaches as Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle bears down on New Zealand.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) lifesaving operations manager James Lea said clubs in the region will only be operating observational patrols from Sunday and this will continue until the cyclone has passed.

"We want people to stay away from our beaches and coastlines if possible. The conditions are going to be extremely dangerous on both the east and west coasts of Auckland and Northland," Lea said.

"To be clear, it is not safe to visit the beach while we are experiencing severe weather conditions, and the coastline should be avoided until the weather clears."

Lea said swells are expected to reach up to seven metres and could create large surges and even endanger those who are not in the water.

Lea added SLSNR would have search and rescue squads on standby in the event of flooding, and anyone who's in trouble should call 111 and ask for police.

"We don't want to see anyone hurt, and we are asking people to exercise some common sense and stay away from our coastlines as Cyclone Gabrielle passes through," he said.

10:22am - MetService has updated its weather warnings and watches on Sunday morning as Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand.

MetService issued a red heavy rain warning for Northland, Auckland, including Great Barrier Island and other islands in the Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay.

The forecaster said rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding. Slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.

MetService also issued a red wind warning for Auckland, including Great Barrier Island and other islands in the Hauraki Gulf and the Coromandel Peninsula.

"These winds are expected to produce widespread damage, especially to trees and powerlines and could lift roofs," MetService said.

"Transport and power networks are likely to be significantly impacted, with road closures and power outages. Conditions will be hazardous for motorists and there is a danger to life from flying debris and falling trees or branches."

An orange heavy rain warning is also in place for the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and eastern Marlborough south of Blenheim, including Kaikoura Coast.

A strong wind warning is in place for Northland, Waikato and Waitomo, across to Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, including Taupo and Taihape, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa including the Tararua District, Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Kapiti Coast and Wellington.

10:10am - The wild weather is starting to affect Kiwis in the upper North Island with over 1400 households in the Far North without power, according to Top Energy.

The worst-hit are the Waikare and Rāwhiti areas south of Russell where 440 homes have lost power and the Taheke area west of Kaikohe where 425 homes are affected. Pukenui north of Kaitaia has also been hit with  239 homes and businesses without power.

Purerua Peninsula in the northern Bay of Islands is also affected with 192 homes without power along with Te Kao just south of Cape Reinga with 138 homes affected.

Weather: Cyclone Gabrielle closes in on New Zealand
Photo credit: Top Energy

9:13am - Panic buying is setting in with long queues seen outside an Auckland Pak'nSave on Sunday morning.

9:10am - Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is still tracking to hit the upper North Island with the worst weather expected on Monday and Tuesday.

In its latest tweet, MetService said the cyclone has lost its tropical characteristics but warned it doesn't mean it's weaker.

"It will be a very intense system as it moves closer to our shores in the coming days," MetService said.

8:11am - There are reduced speed limits and lane reductions on the Auckland Harbour Bridge on Sunday morning because of severe wind gusts.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said motorists should take extra care. Motorists in high-sided vehicles and motorcycles are urged to consider delaying their journey or using the detour on State Highway 18/State Highway 16 (Western Ring Route).

7:50am - WeatherWatch is warning the effects of Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle will be felt across much of the North Island on Sunday, especially later in the day.

WeaterWatch said Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel will bear the brunt of the bad weather on Sunday as strong easterly winds rise to gale force at times and periods of heavy rain set in, particularly in the east.

"Fresh gusty easterlies are expected to develop over the remainder of the North Island throughout the day, with rain, more patchy in nature, developing across central regions and about the east coast. In the west; Taranaki, Whanganui, Kapiti and Wellington should all remain mostly fine, with increasing high cloud and temperatures of around 20 degrees," WeatherWatch said.

But the wild weather shouldn't hit the South Island with WeatherWatch saying a stubborn ridge of high pressure enabling a mainly fine and sunny Sunday ahead for many regions.
"A mostly cloudy day for the Tasman district, drizzly in Marlborough and fresh, gusty north-easterlies along the east coast are the only real knocks on the South Island’s Sunday weather, with the vast majority of regions in line for a mostly sunny and settled day ahead," WeatherWatch said.

"A few isolated showers however may pop up about inland Otago and Southland during the afternoon. Pleasant temperatures for most, particularly inland, ranging between 18-23 degrees."


The forecaster said Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle is located in the north Tasman Sea and is expected to move closer to the upper North Island on Monday and Tuesday. 

"This is expected to be a widespread and significant weather event. Significant heavy rain and potentially damaging winds are forecast for many parts of northern and central New Zealand," MetService said. 

"In addition, large waves, storm surges and coastal inundation are possible about exposed eastern coasts of the North Island.

"The amount of rain forecast for the Coromandel Peninsula and northern Gisborne is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding. Slips and floodwaters are likely to damage roads, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities. Power outages are also very likely." 

A red heavy rain warning is in place for the Coromandel Peninsula and  Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay from Sunday to Tuesday morning. 

MetService warns rain is expected to cause dangerous river conditions and significant flooding. Slips and floodwaters are likely to disrupt travel, making some roads impassable and possibly isolating communities.

An orange heavy rain warning has been issued for Northland, Auckland, including Great Barrier Island, Gisborne, from Tolaga Bay southwards and Hawke's Bay. 

A strong wind warning is in place for the Coromandel Peninsula, Auckland from Whangaparaoa southwards, Waikato and Waitomo, across to Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, including Taupō and Taihape, Northland, and Auckland north of Whangaparaoa including Great Barrier Island. 

A heavy rain watch is in place for the Bay of Plenty, eastern Taupo and Wairarapa including the Tararua District, while a strong wind watch is issued for Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa including the Tararua District, Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Kapiti Coast, Wellington, Marlborough, Nelson and Buller north of Seddonville.

Thames-Coromandel Civil Defence controller Garry Towler warned people should seriously consider preparing to evacuate if they are in an area prone to flooding or could be inundated by a coastal surge.

"Things have changed a little bit and we are now probably confident to say that a very severe and possibly destructive cyclone is descending on the Coromandel," he said in a YouTube video.

"Now that we have some quite certain information that we are going to have over 400 mils of rain, winds with wind gusts in excess of maybe 140-150 km/h, that we are in a position now to ask people to seriously consider preparing to evacuate."

Fire and Emergency group manager Shane Bromley added emergency services may not be able to get to you in an emergency.

"Think about your evacuations, make a plan, take your medication, take food, take whatever you need now before we have to come and try and evacuate you," he said.

"We are unable sometimes to get to you so let's please make sure we take this seriously and if you feel you need to evacuate, please evacuate now."