Richard Draper was about to go to bed when he heard what sounded like an "aircraft crashing into the ceiling".

The 86-year-old rushed outside his home in Monte Cassino Place in Birkdale, Auckland, about 9.30pm and found his corrugated iron roof splayed across his neighbour's back yard.

"It was unbelievable. It sounded as if an aircraft had crashed through the ceiling.

"It all went on for a couple of minutes. I just stood and hoped the whole ceiling wouldn't come in. Not much you could do."

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Auckland was hit by hurricane-force winds last night from a southerly storm, that brought gusts of 140km/h across the city, peaking at 213km/h at Manukau Heads.

Draper's neighbour Jasper Hamlet had arrived home just before the roof lifted off.

"We first noticed the roof was hanging a little bit, like a parachute catching the air. I heard it creaking away.

"Then all of a sudden a big piece of corrugated iron came flying off, and the rest of the roof with it. The roof was obliterated, ended up in our back yard with the Pink Batts and TV aerial.

"It was a bloody loud ruckus, corrugated iron crashing into itself, big pieces of metal.

"It was pretty crazy, I was standing on the balcony with my girlfriend."

He went down to check the damage, where he saw Draper.

"He came out of his house, looking at the roof on the ground and asked me, 'Is that your roof or my roof?'

"I said, 'Unfortunately, it is your roof my friend'. He said, 'Oh shit'."

They were "lucky" the wind didn't do any damage at their place, he said.

"All the wind was coming from the west, channelling up this big gully to us at top of the hill.

"[Draper's] house is in front of ours, and breaks the wind.

"A storm that big has a lot of energy and makes you feel pretty insignificant. Anything that stood in its way, it was going to tear through it.

"One of my dad's staff had the same thing happen – she woke up with her neighbour's roof in her back yard."

The wind hadn't ripped off the entire ceiling, but water was leaking through the house.

"I have put down about 15 buckets to collect water, but they keep filling up," said Draper, who has rented the property for the past nine years.

"I feel a bit cheesed off. The wind happened to just hit our house, while next door is not damaged at all. It seems very centralised."

He was removing everything from the apartment while repairs were being done.

"I will probably have to move out of here. It will be quite a while redoing the wall, ceiling and new roof."