Golfers ran for cover as hoardings went flying, drivers were battling fierce wind gusts and Civil Defence warned people to tie down loose objects as a storm packing gale-force winds approached the upper North Island last night.
Trampolines and tree branches were expected to go flying once the full brunt of the storm hit the region, with 120km/h winds due from 10pm.
Wind gusts of 110km/h were being measured on the outskirts of Auckland by 6pm, with severe weather warnings issued for Northland through to the Waikato.
The winds caused chaos at the NZ Women's Golf Open in South Auckland in the late afternoon. Players ran for cover at the Windross Farm course after squall sent hoardings flying. The tournament will resume today.
Drivers reported being pummelled by fierce winds on motorways, with the Metservice recording strong gusts on Auckland's Harbour Bridge and the NZTA warning drivers to take "extreme caution" with the crossing.
Electricity company Vector had crews on standby last night as the gusts were expected to bring down trees and power lines.
Meteorologist Tui McInnes said the storm could be strong enough to blow objects into the air.
"You might see your trampoline has tipped itself over," he said. "Don't keep loose things around in your garden that could be picked up by the wind and rolled into a glass window."
The gales were expected to last into the early hours of this morning, with a lower possibility of high winds in Hawke's Bay.
By dawn the worst should be over, with the North Island's weather steadily improving and the prospect of a sunny weekend.
MetService said the week will feel much drier, with just the odd shower, as southwesterlies move onto the country.
It's still damp in the west but the east of the country is drying out and should see sunshine, Metservice said. A high pressure system will spread the fine weather over the country as the week progresses.
By Wednesday or Thursday a cold front will bring rain and showers in the South Island, with possible snow in high areas. But the rest of the country should continue to see reasonably fine weather.
The forecaster said there is still wet springtime weather on the horizon - including next weekend - but with summer approaching the weeks ahead will begin to look drier and warmer.
Showers, heavy before dawn, and gale westerlies gusting to 100km/h before dawn, gradually easing. High 18C, Overnight 12C
AUCKLAND Showers, heavy before dawn. Gale westerlies, gusting 110 km/h before dawn, easing. High 17C, Overnight 13C
TAURANGA Mainly fine, showers before dawn and in afternoon. Strong westerlies, easing evening. High 18C, Overnight 10C
HAMILTON Fine with a few showers. Westerlies, easing evening. High 16C, Overnight 9C
NAPIER Mainly fine, showers before dawn. Westerlies. High 21C, Overnight 8C
WELLINGTON Long fine spells. Northwesterlies change to southerly afternoon, then dying out. High 17C, Overnight 8C