Twisters are nothing new despite a recent spate of funnel clouds extending to the ground, a weather expert says.

A small twister uprooted trees and scattered debris across fairways at an Ashburton golf course at about 6pm yesterday.

Several silver birch trees were destroyed but the clubhouse escaped damage.

A golf club member said some of the trees were about 30-years-old. While the damage around the golf course was significant, the man said the twister appeared to have spared Mayfield township.


"It's a bloody mess here. We won't be pruning again for a while, and we've got a lot of work to do if we want to play golf on Saturday," he said.

Yesterday's twister followed a powerful one in Auckland last month which killed three people when it went through Hobsonville.

Metservice severe weather analyst John Crouch said tornadoes were not becoming more prevalent.

"I think what's happening is more people are seeing them and recording them with mobile phones and cameras," Mr Crouch said.

He said the localised Mayfield twister would have been 10 to 20 metres wide and touched town about 6pm before dissipating.

Rapidly developing thunder storms and opposing winds were contributed to yesterday's twister.