East coast from Coromandel to south bears brunt of Cook’s wrath.

It was wet, windy and wild - and then it was over.

While the havoc of Cyclone Cook has dissipated, the clean up is just beginning in some places.

Across the country roads flooded, rivers swelled and gusts of wind exceeding 200km/h were recorded.

The Whakatane District was placed under a state of emergency and 130 took shelter at an evacuation centre. More than 11,400 homes lost power in Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Wairarapa, Whanganui and Bay of Plenty.

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Najesty Devonshire among flooding in in Hartford Ave. Photo / Andrew Warner
Najesty Devonshire among flooding in in Hartford Ave. Photo / Andrew Warner

In Christchurch the Heathcote River burst its banks; roofs were torn off houses in Hawke's Bay, windows smashed in Whakatane, trampolines tossed in the air, mud dumped on roads and hundreds of trees uprooted across the island as the country took a battering.

Wind gusts exceeding 200km/h were recorded by MetService on White Island in the Bay of Plenty, and on the mainland, Cape Kidnappers and coastal Gisborne registered 150km/h gusts. In Napier winds "like freight trains" sent outdoor furniture and trees flying.

Danny-Boy Korepa was evacuated from his house in Edgecumbe after severe flooding last week, and found himself in the thick of Cyclone Cook as it tore through Whakatane.

He hunkered down with 10 other family members.

When the family return home they are likely in for a big clean up.

Korepa said he is uninsured, and the damage caused by the flooding will be a big hit to him and his family.

Danny-Boy Korepa and his family have been evacuated from Edgecumbe and are staying in Whakatane after flooding in the area.
Danny-Boy Korepa and his family have been evacuated from Edgecumbe and are staying in Whakatane after flooding in the area.

"But there's heaps of whanau out there that will come and help. We're actually all right for now."

It wasn't just the locals affected by the cyclone.

The Roters family from Manchester were halfway through a three-week Kiwi campervan holiday visiting family and taking in sights when they were unexpectedly caught up in Thursday's major evacuation along the Bay of Plenty coastline.

"We had just arrived yesterday and were staying at Matata in the campground," said mum Sally Roters.

"Police came and evacuated the area and told us to leave as soon as possible. They told us to go to the Memorial Hall in Whakatane."

The family spent a noisy night in the hall with more than 100 others seeking refuge from the cyclone.

But she praised the kindness of those rallying to make everyone as safe as possible.

"It was very comfortable and people were very helpful," Roters said.

A road inspection contractor inspects for damage to State Highway 25, which is the only road open for holiday makers who are traveling to Whitianga. Photo / Brett Phibbs
A road inspection contractor inspects for damage to State Highway 25, which is the only road open for holiday makers who are traveling to Whitianga. Photo / Brett Phibbs

On Thursday morning forecasters were warning Cook could be in the same league as ex-Tropical Cyclone Giselle in 1968, which hit the whole country and resulted in the fatal Wahine ferry disaster.

The warnings lead to the New Zealand Transport Agency advising that the Auckland Harbour Bridge may need to be closed due to strong winds and employers were urged to let staff head home early to ensure they got there.

The mass exodus resulted in traffic jams across the city during the day.

By 5pm most motorway onramps, usually crowded, were empty and traffic was free flowing.

Damage in Auckland was limited to minor flooding and some downed trees.

MetService meteorologist Nick Zacher said tropical cyclones were "fickle beasts which are hard to pin down".

The busy road between Paeroa and Te Aroha was underwater this morning after last night's heavy rain. Video/Hauraki Rail Trail

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black said although the cyclone had not had the impact feared, on areas such as Auckland and Bay of Plenty, it was still a dangerous event and it was important to take precautions.

"Because people took from those precautionary messages, the impact from the storm is less likely to have been what it could have been," she said.

"So we are really pleased.

"We should never under-estimate the potential severity of events like this."

The weather gods seem to be giving New Zealand a slight reprieve after the last week of horrendous weather, with most of the country in for a fine Easter.

Metservice meteorologist Lisa Murray said there would be showers on and off for most parts of the country but plenty of fine spells in between.

A fizzer for some, monster for others

Aucklanders may think the threat of Cyclone Cook was overblown - but those caught in the storm's path had little doubt they'd been hit by a big one.

Upper-scale warnings had Auckland potentially facing between 150mm and 250mm and gusts of more than 120km/h.

A large gum tree fell in the strong winds and closed Alley Rd near Te Puke. Photo / John Borren
A large gum tree fell in the strong winds and closed Alley Rd near Te Puke. Photo / John Borren

Transport officials warned the Auckland Harbour bridge could be closed by high winds, while the University of Auckland closed its doors early and hundreds of businesses allowed their staff to go home before the expected late afternoon arrival of the cyclone.

But the downpours failed to materialise in some areas as Cook tracked slightly east, missing Auckland, Waikato and Coromandel, and hitting land between Tauranga and Whakatane after 6pm.

Even there, the downpour was much less severe than what was feared - Bay of Plenty authorities called the 25mm that fell over an hour unexpectedly light - and winds also fell well short of the 150km/h gales predicted.

Earlier on Thursday, forecasters were warning Cook could be in the same league as ex-Tropical Cyclone Giselle in 1968, which hit the whole country and resulted in the fatal Wahine ferry disaster.

But if the storm was slightly larger or tracked a little more west, the destruction could have been bad, which was why the MetService sent out warnings, MetService meteorologist Nick Zacher said.

A city cleans up after a night of howling winds and lashing rain. Made with funding from NZ On Air.

"Thankfully Auckland seemed to dodge the bullet."

Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black yesterday said although the cyclone had not had the impact feared on areas such as Auckland and Bay of Plenty, it was still a dangerous event and it was important to take precautions.

"Because people took from those precautionary messages, the impact from the storm is less likely to have been what it could have been," she said.

"So we are really pleased. We should never under-estimate the potential severity of events like this."

And there was much to show that Cook was still a major weather event.

Thousands of homes across Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay were left without power, while emergency services received dozens of calls about homes flooding, and powerlines and trees brought down in the Thames-Coromandel District, Matamata, Tauranga and Whakatane.

Slips, flooding and fallen trees and powerlines forced the closures of parts of SH2, SH25, SH30 and SH34; in Napier, the roar of the winds were likened to the sound of freight trains.