Strong winds wreaked havoc in the South Island yesterday, leaving emergency services inundated with calls.
Gusts up to 170km/h battered the Mainland and Fire Service spokesman Riwai Grace said firefighters were "under the pump" from late morning.
Shortly after 4pm, the service had 35 jobs on the go in the South Island, involving 80 fire trucks.
"It's everything from vehicles overturning to rubbish fires spreading and burning out of control to power lines down and phone lines down," Mr Grace said. A car overturned between Twizel and Tekapo.
"Because the wind gusts are just so extreme sometimes, it's luck of the draw," Mr Grace said.
In Otago, power was cut in several areas and property damaged, with at least one shed blown over, the Otago Daily Times reported.
Large dust storms were believed to be the cause of a milk tanker and truck colliding on State Highway 85 in Ranfurly, Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said.
One man, with a suspected broken wrist or arm, was tended to by emergency services staff.
A flight from Christchurch to Dunedin had to turn back because of weather conditions, Air New Zealand communications manager Brigitte Ransom said. Flights out of Dunedin later in the day were cancelled.
Between 10am and 11am, the Mid Dome weather station, 1200m above sea level near Lumsden in Southland, was hit with a 174km/h gust. Mt Hutt recorded 100km/h blasts yesterday, Gore recorded 122km/h and Twizel 115km/h.
Gusts of up to 160km/h were expected to buffet Canterbury.
A northwest flow is bringing the winds. It was moving up New Zealand yesterday ahead of a cold front, which will bring cooler temperatures.
MetService has a severe weather warning in place with potentially damaging winds in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay.
Gusts could also be strong in Fiordland, Westland, Buller, Nelson, Manawatu, Horowhenua-Kapiti, Taihape, Whanganui and Gisborne.
The usually windy Cape Turnagain on the east coast of the lower North Island received 140km/h gusts.