More than 250 people were yesterday trapped on a plane at a military airbase for more than six hours after wild weather and thunderstorms forced the landing in Auckland to be aborted.
The Cathay Pacific flight was due to land at midday but was diverted to Ohakea Air Force base.
The pilots and cabin crew were then barred from flying because they had been in the air too long, forcing the airline to charter an Air New Zealand eight-seater plane to ferry a replacement crew to make the return flight to Auckland.
That meant the 266 passengers and crew had a long wait on board because there are no customs and immigration facilities at the Manawatu airport. The plane eventually landed at Auckland at 7.30pm.
Yesterday's foul weather in the upper North Island caused power outages, flooding and treacherous driving conditions.
Residents in four streets in Auckland's Mt Eden were without power after a wild electrical storm shortly before 12.30pm. Energy provider Vector had most homes reconnected by 3pm.
Waikato was also hammered, with 76mm of rain falling between 5am and midday. The heavy rain caused surface flooding on many busy roads. Power outages were reported in Waikato and Tauranga.
Further south, the wind delayed afternoon flights from Wellington.
The forecast doesn't get any better for the long weekend commemorating Anzac Day. Temperatures won't plunge as low as during the polar blast last week, but holidaymakers should keep rain coats and umbrellas on hand.
In what is being seen as a precursor for winter, a week of rain is forecast for Auckland from tomorrow, including showers and northwesterly winds on Anzac Day.
The country has had one of its hottest and driest summers on record, but MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths said the long-range forecast pointed towards a winter of wild weather.
"We enjoyed a run of extended dry, sunny and warm weather for a while, and now we are about to pay for it," she said.