Key Points:

A storm caused plenty of inconvenience around Wellington today, but a bogus email about its effects caused "mass annoyance," Wellington City Council said tonight.

The email detailed storm damage around the capital, listing streets closed by slips, damage at the airport, extensive delays to trains and buses, school closures and "huge seas" blocking Moa Point Rd.

It was actually information about a violent storm in August 2004, city council spokesman Richard MacLean said.

"It didn't cause mass panic, but mass annoyance would be an appropriate description," Mr MacLean told NZPA.

The report circulated on email groups around Wellington and the council received many calls of concern as a result.

But there were clues the email was bogus - it detailed school closures. Students are currently on school holidays.

"Our advice is to ignore the email," Mr MacLean said.

"While there have been strong northerly winds in the Wellington region today and heavy rain, none of the incidents on the email being circulated have occurred. They all occurred during a fierce southerly storm in August 2004."

He said the council would attempt to find out how and why the email was initially circulated, but it had not yet decided to contact police.

The strong winds did force airlines to suspend flights in and out of Wellington Airport, with gusts of 130km/h this morning and nearly 160km/h on Mount Kaukau. The northwesterlies were being accompanied by driving rain.

Flights resumed later on.

High winds also closed the Rimutaka Hill Road on State Highway 2 this morning after a car on the Wairarapa side of the hill was blown into a bank. No one was injured. The road was reopened this afternoon.

The worst of the storm had cleared the capital by early afternoon and headed further north.

But there are grave fears for a 54-year-old woman who was swept away while crossing a flooded stream in the Taranaki-Mt Egmont National Park.

The woman had been tramping with a companion before the incident around midday.

Search and rescue were still looking for the woman late this evening.

The storm front has now moved further south to Auckland, which was being buffeted by driving rain and the high winds.

But the Metservice predicted the front should clear the country tonight.

- NZPA with NZ HERALD STAFF