Get out the candles if you live on the East Coast - power is expected to be out to hundreds of homes overnight.

The Eastland Group is working to get electricity back on across the area, but warns there are still 771 homes still without power late this afternoon.

"We're asking people to prepare to be without power overnight,'' a statement said.

"Our crews are doing everything they can do to get power back on and will work late into the night. But floods, fallen trees and other issues mean they simply can't access some areas.''


The majority of the power outage is in Tauwhareparae, where 140 properties are without power.

Outages in Gisborne are in Moutohora (48 homes without power), Waimata Valley (11), Manders (20), Tarewa Rd (57), Parikanapa Rd (30), Kanakanaia Rd (59), Tiniroto Rd - Gentle Annie (29), Ngakoroa Rd (53), Hihiroroa Rd Sth (14) and Waitangi Terraces (private) (5).

On the Coast, outages remain in Arakihi, Kiore Rd, West Ho, Rangikohua Rd (29), Tapuaeroa (35), Mata Rd (38), Ihungia Rd (19), SH35 - Waipiro (T-off to Ihungia) (2), Waipiro Rd (21), Lottin Point (13), Panikau Rd, Waimoko Rd (50).

And in Wairoa, the outages are: Raupunga, Willow Flat, Woodlands, Kakariki (40), Ardkeen, Cricklewood, Ruapapa (40) and Morere (18).

Those with a fault are being told to contact the dedicated faults line: 0800 206 207.

The East Cape is bearing the brunt of bad weather for the second time in a week as strong winds and heavy rain lash the North Island.

Downpours have swamped an already rain-soaked Gisborne district, and strong winds have littered the streets with debris. Many trees are down around town.

State Highway 5 between Napier and Taupo will remain closed overnight due to multiple slips and surface flooding along the route, authorities said.

The NZ Transport Agency said crews were working hard to reopen the road, but challenging conditions and large amounts of slip material spread across the route are making for tough going.

The next update on the condition of the road is expected tomorrow at 10am.

Another major road shut off tonight is in the Kaikoura district - on the Inland Route 70 between Mt Lyford and Kaikoura.

The NZTA said: "Deteriorating weathers conditions also mean that State Highway 1 north and south of Kaikoura will close at 5pm tonight:

South of Kaikoura will be closed between the Leader Rd/SH1 intersection to Peketa

North of Kaikoura will be closed between Mangamaunu to Clarence.

"Please note that access is still available to Mt Lyford from Waiau."

The bad weather follows Queen's Birthday weekend floods that severely hit Tolaga Bay after a million tonnes of forestry slash was washed into waterways.

More than 30 rural roads have been affected, and 10 affected schools and kindergartens were closed. Photo / The Gisborne Herald
More than 30 rural roads have been affected, and 10 affected schools and kindergartens were closed. Photo / The Gisborne Herald

More than 30 rural roads have been affected, and slips on State Highway 5 (Napier-Taupō Rd), State Highway 2 (Napier-Wairoa Rd) have closed the routes. The township of Te Karaka north of Gisborne has been completely cut off.

Lanes on Thames Coast Rd are also closed because of slips.

The heaviest falls of about 200mm in the past 24 hours were recorded by the Gisborne District Council's rain gauge in the Waikura Valley at East Cape.

High country rain gauges all showed big falls: Mata 175mm, Pakihiroa 145mm, Puketoro 175mm and Arowhana 134mm.

Fernside had 120mm, Matawai 110mm, Pakarae 120mm, Te Arai 110mm, Te Puia 110mm, Waerenga o kuri 130mm, and Waipaoa at Kanakanaia 110mm.

One of many trees that has come down in the Gisborne region, on Gaddums Hill. Photo / The Gisborne Herald
One of many trees that has come down in the Gisborne region, on Gaddums Hill. Photo / The Gisborne Herald

More than 5500 households and businesses throughout Kaiti and the whole of the East Coast also woke without power this morning after a large macrocarpa tree fell across 50kV power lines in Valley Rd by the Massey Rd substation about 11pm.

In Te Araroa a trampoline blew into powerlines and also cut power. There are also outages in Tauranga, Tokoroa, Palmerston North, Napier and Hastings.

Eastland Network has restored power to over 600 customers.

Powerco is also working to restore power supply to 760 customers in Tauranga.

Electricity companies have advised that although the weather should gradually improve through today, customers should be prepared for lengthy periods without power.

Nineteen North Island schools and seven early childhood services were closed because of the weather, meaning 2114 students and 266 learners had to stay home.

John Edwards (Tubby) with dogs Dog and Ben in the floodwaters in Gisborne. Photo / The Gisborne Herald
John Edwards (Tubby) with dogs Dog and Ben in the floodwaters in Gisborne. Photo / The Gisborne Herald

As the centre of the subtropical low moves onshore, wind gusts have reached more than 100km/h. Gusts of 169km/h have been recorded on White Island, 113km/h near Rotorua and 100km/h at Hicks Bay.

Gisborne Airport recorded a gust of 76km/h at about midnight and a gust of 96km/h was recorded at Tolaga Bay.

As the storm moves across the North Island, Hawke's Bay residents are preparing to be the next region overwhelmed by its forces.

MetService is predicting 100-130mm of rain through to midday tomorrow in the Ruahine and Kaweka Ranges, on top of what the region has already experienced.

Hawke's Bay Civil Defence emergency management group controller Ian Macdonald said most rivers are coping with the downpour so far, although close attention is being paid to the Esk River and rivers around Wairoa.

"While the public might see some rivers spilling over, that is normal and we are confident the stopbanks on our major rivers will keep them contained," Macdonald said.

People who live in low-lying areas should keep a close watch on the rivers and streams in their area and be prepared to move if they feel unsafe.

Meanwhile, people are also being urged to keep away from the coast from Cape Kidnappers to Mahia where heavy swells are expected throughout the day, culminating at high tide at 4pm.

A 5.83m easterly swell has been recorded at the Napier Port buoy.

Civil Defence is continuing to closely monitor the situation and council staff are on standby to activate a co-ordination centre if necessary.

Gisborne's mayor Meng Foon says it is a huge relief to have government support after the dreadful weather.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities announced this morning that the flood damage around Tolaga Bay was now classified as a "medium-scale adverse event" which meant the region would get much needed financial support.

"We have a lot of work to do in terms of keeping the community safe, repairs to bridges and roads and clearing of forestry slash," Foon said.

"This immediate response from the Government will lighten the burden on our community and help us to get on with the work that needs to be done."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet would discuss the issue of forestry slash.

"That's a wider issue that ministers are doing work on as we speak, and I think minister [Shane] Jones has made it really clear and rightly so that the priority has to be that we get the clean-up done, but we have to look at whether we are planting the right tree in the right place."

- Additional reporting by the Gisborne Herald