Mount Maunganui has been hammered by a freak hailstorm this afternoon.

Small but plenty of hail fell hard on the beach settlement about 3pm, as school children made their way home.

A local resident, who did not want to be named, said he had never seen hail like it in his years of living at the Mount.

The street he lived on and the car he drove was blanketed in white, he said.

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The man also said he saw school children making their way home "get absolutely hammered".