The small beachside community of Ohope in the Bay of Plenty has been evacuated.

Police and Civil Defence have been going door to door telling nearly 3000 residents to take to higher ground.

Cyclone Cook is expected to reach landfall in the Bay of Plenty between 6pm and 7pm.

Fleeing Ohope residents told the NZ Herald they were pleased to be leaving the town with huge waves now pounding the beach.