Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Tornado blows through Papamoa

Photo NZPA / Wayne Drought
Photo NZPA / Wayne Drought

A tornado has blown through a popular beach resort outside Tauranga this morning, causing damage to house roofs.

High winds and driving rain have been battering Bay of Plenty today.

And shortly after 10am, Papamoa Beach was hit by a tornado that has damaged several properties. Fire Service appliances from Papamoa and Mount Maunganui have been called to the Wairakei Ave area after reports of weather-damage and flooding.

"I could not confirm whether a tornado has been responsible, but we are in attendance at several properties that have either sustained flooding or have had roofs lifted in the Papamoa area," a Fire Service spokesman told APNZ.

"We've only just arrived and started with salvage operations in the area."

There has been no reports of injuries.

One Wairakei Ave resident saw the tornado come through shortly after 10am.

"We didn't see a tornado ourselves, but it's been very high winds coming off the beach," her neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said.

"It ebbs and flows. It came on really fast for about 15 minutes, then eased, and everyone walked on to the street, and fire engines came, and then another lots of winds came through for ten minutes.

"I didn't really realise it was a tornado.

"The kids are a little bit shaken, the dog is shaking like a leaf."

Wairakei Ave resident Anne Bernard said the tornado passed right over her house.

"It was like a wall of rain and wind, swirling around,'' she said.

"I was on the phone at the time and I couldn't hear anything. It was like a howling sound.

"It hit our backyard. I was standing at the ranchslider looking out. The rain was so heavy and dense that you couldn't actually see anything outside of it.''

Mrs Bernard, 56, had her 8-year-old grandson with her at the time.

She said they've been turning the experience into "an adventure''.

"You try and stay brave for kids.''

Her property escaped any damage - "just chairs blowing around, pots turned over'' - but her neighbours have had tiles blown off their rooftops.

"The neighbours are all out helping each other, checking everyone is all right.

"Our next door neighbour on the other side, they've got a two-storey house and their living room is flooded, just with the sheer volume of water coming under their ranchslider.''

The weather has now eased and the skies are "looking a bit brighter'', she said.

- APNZ

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