As the wind swirled in the tree tops, lightning flashed in the sky and torrential rain pelted down, Constable Gary Hayes and 16-year-old Tipene Parata trudged their way through a gorge in a Northland forest.
The duo were walking a section of the Te Araroa Trail in Puketi Forest when the storm hit on Sunday, bringing more than 800 lightning strikes and cutting power to more than 7000 households across Northland.
"We were in a steep gorge so managed to stay out of the wind but it was pretty wet and the lightning was spectacular," Hayes said.
"There were about three hours of rough weather and we just had to push on and didn't get to our DoC hut until midnight."
They used head torches and the light of the moon to see their way.
Arriving at the hut after a 38km slog, they put on dry clothes and ate a hot pasta meal.
"It's amazing how a hot meal can make you feel so much better."
Hayes is walking the length of New Zealand to mark the 35th anniversary of the police-run youth charity Blue Light.
Walking with him for the 440km section through Northland is Bay of Islands College student and under-18 Northland rugby representative Tipene Parata from Moerewa.
They were scheduled to reach Kerikeri yesterday afternoon and were looking forward to a meal at McDonalds.
The fierce but short-lived storm pummelled Northland with 815 lightning strikes in the 24 hours to noon yesterday, MetService forecaster Tui McInnes said.
Nationally the total number of strikes over the same period was 14,587, most of which were over water.
The thunderstorm was associated with a low-pressure system moving across the country.
McInnes said today would start with showers, particularly in the west, gradually clearing up ahead of fine conditions forecast on Wednesday.
According to Northland Regional Council data, the wettest place in the 24 hours to noon yesterday was Larmer Rd south of Kaitaia with 41mm of rain.
Volunteer firefighters responded to downed trees on Kerikeri's Homestead Rd and in Haruru Falls on Sunday night.
Northpower network general manager Josie Boyd said the first lightning front came through on Sunday morning and affected mainly the area south of Dargaville.
The second front, accompanied by strong winds, hit in the evening and caused many faults over a wide area.
The most significant outage was in the greater Dargaville area where both 50kV lines tripped at the time, cutting power to almost 6000 households.
''However, we were able to be restore power within a few minutes ... our crews did a great job working through the night to restore power to minimise the impact on our customers,'' Boyd said.
In the Far North about 1000 households were affected by outages during the storm, mostly due to lightning strikes and trees contacting power lines.
The network was also affected by strong localised winds and a car hitting a power pole at Oromahoe, a Top Energy spokeswoman said. The main areas affected were Kerikeri, Kaeo and north of Kaitaia.