More than 80 lightning strikes in two hours jolted people from their beds as a large thunderstorm passed over the northern North Island early this morning.

Auckland experienced the worst of the storm, with most of the lightning striking over the City of Sails. The loudest thunder claps came about 3am when a flurry of lightning struck over central Auckland.

A cold snap that brought an early taste of winter to parts of the South Island yesterday will bring cool temperatures to the North Island today, with thunder and hail expected to hit Auckland early this morning.

Between 2am and 4.15am, 85 lightning strikes were recorded across New Zealand, with most centred over Auckland, MetService data shows.

The storm was "associated with an active trough line which moved north over the region", MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said.

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The Auckland region saw more than 40 lightning strikes as the trough moved through.

In the eight minutes leading up to 3.11am, three lightning strikes flashed over central Auckland in quick succession. It was the loud thunder accompanying these three strikes which rattled homes and woke many people up, Ms Griffiths said.

The storm was felt offshore from Taranaki as well as in Coromandel and on Great Barrier Island, she said.