Cyclone Gabrielle: Norfolk Island prepares for cyclone's impact

Cyclone Gabrielle, headed for New Zealand, brought destructive winds to Australia's Norfolk Island on Saturday as it continued to track towards the tiny external territory in the Pacific Ocean.

Gabrielle, a Category 2 tropical cyclone with winds of up 155 kilometres per hour (96 mph), was 235 km (146 miles) northwest of Norfolk Island, where conditions were deteriorating, Australia's weather bureau said Saturday.

The forecaster said the cyclone's centre would pass over or near Norfolk Island - an Australian territory 1,500 km (930 miles) east of Sydney - on Saturday evening.

Last month Auckland and parts of the North Island were hit by record rainfall that sparked widespread floods and killed four people.

Norfolk Island covers just over 34 square km (13 square miles) in the Pacific Ocean, between New Caledonia and New Zealand.

Its roughly 2,000 residents, some descended from British sailors who mutinied on the HMS Bounty in the 18th century, have been fuelling up emergency power generators and tying down outdoor equipment and objects ahead of the cyclone's arrival.

"Gale-force winds and high waves are currently developing and conditions are expected to worsen throughout the day as the centre of the cyclone approaches this evening," the Bureau of Meteorology said.

It said the weather system, heading towards the island at 35 kph (22 mph), would bring abnormally heavy rain, high tides and very heavy surf, which it said could cause local damage and coastal erosion.

"The community are doing the right thing and we're in as good a place as we can be," Norfolk Island Administrator Eric Hutchinson told ABC television.

Australia's mainland is not expected to be hit by the cyclone, but in New Zealand some North Island regions including Auckland - the country's biggest city - have been preparing for it to spark bad weather.

The country's weather forecaster, MetService, said it expected Gabrielle to move towards New Zealand in coming days.

"We expect to see impacts from this cyclone from Sunday starting in the north and spreading south to other parts of northern and central New Zealand," the forecaster said on Saturday.

Auckland Emergency Management said the city was likely to be hit by Gabrielle's strong winds on Sunday night, with the worst of the cyclone's impact forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

Winds of up to 140 kph (90 mph), or possibly higher, were predicted from Monday, the agency said.