More thunderstorms and tornadoes were set to barrel across northern and western regions of both islands this morning, after lightning and twisters destroyed multiple properties yesterday and floods caused havoc for drivers.

A total 11,500 lightning strikes were recorded in the 24 hours until 6pm yesterday, MetService meteorologist Brian Mercer said. About 90 per cent were over water but more than 1000 hit land.

"There were a significant number that hit Westland but the vast majority were on the North Island."

The MetService warned further thunderstorms and potentially destructive twisters were possible early today as thunderstorms were due to roll over Taranaki, south Waikato and Westland before dawn.

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The West Coast of the South Island and coastal Taranaki were also still in the firing line with thunderstorms expected across the region from early today until lunchtime.

There would be sporadic lightning, brief torrential downpours, hail up to 10mm in diameter and squally 100km/h wind gusts.

"There is also the risk of small tornadoes before dawn, mainly about Taranaki and along the South Island west coast. If any tornadoes do occur, they will be very localised, but there is a low risk one or two could be severe, causing damage to buildings and vegetation," the MetService Thunderstorm Outlook said.

Heavy rain warnings remained in place for the Tararua Ranges, as well as Westland and Fiordland.

Up to 250mm was expected to fall on the Westland ranges by this evening, with rain lasting until 6pm. Another torrential downpour was also expected this morning at the bottom of the North Island.

Gale watches were in force for Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Wellington and Canterbury, with the winds expected to die down late last night, but for eastern regions strong westerlies would not start blowing until lunchtime tomorrow.

The country could expect to be lashed by wind and rain until Saturday, before a fresh low tracked over the country Sunday, bringing gales to the north, the Metservice said.

Today's forecast

Whangarei:

Cloudy with a few showers, fine spells from afternoon. Gusty northwesterlies. High 18C, Overnight 9C

Auckland:

Cloudy with showers, but a few fine spells from afternoon. Northwesterlies, strong in exposed places. High 17C, Overnight 11C

Hamilton:

Periods of rain, chance heavy. Gusty northwesterlies. High 15C, Overnight 8C

Tauranga:

Cloudy, showers, fine spells from afternoon. Westerlies. High 16, Overnight 9C

Wellington:

Some rain. Northerlies, gales at times. High 13C, Overnight 8C