A short and sharp weather bomb hit Auckland and the Bay of Plenty today causing surface flooding and damage to some homes throughout the regions.
Earlier today, three people were rescued from a home in Penrose after a 25m tree trapped them in their bedrooms.
Bob Morrison, senior station manager at Mt Wellington fire station, said they were called to the scene about 11.15am.
"A tree had fallen and caused quite substantial damage to the building," he said.
"We were able to extricate three persons via windows and make the scene as safe as we can."
Morrison said one woman suffered minor injuries from the debris falling on her back, and she was treated by St John on the scene.
Meanwhile, a mother described a terrifying moment a tree branch speared through the roof of her Avondale home.
Michelle McKenzie sheltered with her frightened three-year-old son, Christopher, in a cupboard.
She said the trees outside the family's Oberon Pl home were often noisy on windy days, but it felt different this morning.
"This time it just felt not what it's supposed to feel like ... it was like a rumbling, it was just a bit worse. So we jumped in the cupboard," she said.
The ordeal lasted less than a minute and when the pair emerged she discovered the branch of a large tree had pierced the roof and entered the room in which they were sheltering.
She still couldn't quite believe what she was seeing.
"I saw that branch and I just thought 'what's happening?'"
The pair sheltered with neighbours before McKenzie's partner, Brett Swanepoel, returned home.
They would stay with friends today, McKenzie said.
Mini tornadoes hit
It is understood a tornado, described as small and weak, hit Pt Chevalier before blowing across the North Western Motorway about 10.45am.
A Manurewa resident said a mini tornado hit their front yard about 11.10am.
"My partner watched it outside and my nephew and I pretty much freaked out and held onto each other," said the resident.
"It was loud and it sounded like the windows were going to smash from all of the plants and stuff hitting the windows."
About 1500 homes and businesses were without power after an outage at Hillcrest, on Auckland's North Shore.
Crews from Vector attended the scene at about 10.30am and were working to restore services. This evening more than 200 residents remained without power.
Roads remained clear around Auckland despite this morning's weather.
"Things are actually looking pretty good," The New Zealand Transport Agency's Auckland media manager Sarah Azam said.
Some minor slips and fallen trees meant traffic was a little slower than usual in some areas, Ms Azam said.
The road was still open on SH1 at Maromaku, but the speed limit had been reduced to 30 km/h after a slip came down on the road.
There was also a slip north of Thames on SH25, Ms Azam said.
"Around Auckland itself there are lots of trees down but no major problems, all roads are open, there is no significant flooding on the state highways."
In the Bay of Plenty, strong wind gusts and mini tornadoes caused damage, and what was described as a "mini tornado" ripped the roof off a garage in Mount Maunganui.
Police said they received reports of "mini tornadoes" and "gusts of wind" and a number of residents also reported minor flooding and accidents caused by today's weather.
"We've had an extraordinary large volume of calls which we would normally anticipate during an event of this nature," Northern fire communications manager Scott Osmond said.
MetService meteorologist Claire Flynn said more rain was expected about the top of the North Island this evening.
"We had that band of heavy rain that went through and there is another band of heavy rain coming along. "
At the moment it is just to the west of the North Island, so this evening that should go across most of the upper North Island."
She said more thunderstorms were also possible for the Bay of Plenty, Northland and Auckland "and with those thunderstorms they could see some gusts."
Those gusts would ease off early tomorrow morning, Ms Flynn said.
Auckland winds wreak havok
Heavy winds flipped over two light aircraft at Ardmore Airport, 32km south of central Auckland.
Clevedon resident Matt Archer said a third plane had been pushed into other aircraft after ''a huge gust'' blew through about 11.20am.
He arrived at the airport after the planes were toppled and was warned away by a man on site because of fears of a fuel spill.
''He said there was a huge gust of wind that came out of nowhere."
Archer, 41, also described the dramatic scenes he witnessed while driving to the airport.
"There was all of this carnage on the road. Trees and leaves, rubbish all over the place...it was like someone had just stripped the trees and spread the leaves all over everything. It looked a little bit like a snowdrift in some places."
Warning: Video contains explicit language
Andrew Wilson said a section of Tamaki Drive at St Heliers had been closed by police about 10.45am because a ''huge'' fallen tree blocked the road.
The Newmarket man came across the scene while sightseeing with a relative visiting from Wellington.
The toppled tree, which he believed was a pohutukawa, had ''clean snapped off and gone through into the middle of the road" next to Vellonoweth Green on Tamaki Drive.
"That tree has been thrown about 15 metres into the road and just about hit a parked car...it's pretty exciting."
A dozen ''massive'' broken branches of Morton Bay Fig trees had also come down in the same area, Wilson said.
Inspector Willie Taylor, of Auckland, said the road was still blocked early this afternoon.
''The council will be coming out with chainsaws to clear it."
Emergency services flooded
Emergency services have also been flooded with calls of roofs being blown off buildings as heavy winds batter the city.
A police spokesman said emergency services were dealing with a number of weather related incidents.
"Between police and fire we are pretty busy with high winds and people in unfortunate situations."
He said in particular, motorways around the area were being "hammered".
Northern fire communications shift manager Scott Osmond said fire services had attended over 100 weather related incidents in Auckland.
He said fire services had attended jobs in west Avondale, Henderson, through the central area of the city, and down towards Papatoetoe and Papakura in the south.
Between 12 to 15 residents had called in to report damage to their rooves, he said, with the rest for trees and power lines that had come down in the wind.
He said the message to residents in the Auckland area was simple - "stay safe".
Power has been restored to 1500 homes and businesses after huge outages across Hillcrest on Auckland's North Shore this morning.
Crews from Vector attended the scene about 10.30am and have since been able to restore power.
"A feeder went at Hillcrest affecting about 1500 customers," Vector spokeswoman Sandy Hodge said.
"We are working to restore this and it is believed a power line was affected by a combination of heavy rain and wind."
In anticipation of problems today, Vector had rostered on extra crews, she added.
"We have experienced a few other weather-related outages elsewhere today but fortunately nothing too major."
About 400 other customers had been affected by less serious outages across Auckland this morning due to high winds and rain, Hodge said.
Stormy weather set to clear
Weather Watch said roads across the region had also been affected by debris and surface water in this morning's stormy weather.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan said the front was now clearing the city.
"It arrived on time and is clearing a little ahead of schedule. Now we're seeing the worst of the weather crossing the Hauraki Gulf and into Great Barrier Island and Coromandel Peninsula."
While pockets of damage were being reported right across Auckland, Duncan said it was important to note that most properties had come through unscathed.
Yesterday, Weather Watch predicted there would be a risk of a small tornado or localised wind damage as the active front passed through.
As of today, no tornadoes had been confirmed, however there were reports of winds swirling in all directions and "rain that was going upwards", Duncan said.
He said at their peak, wind gusts were estimated to have reached between 110 to 130 km/h.
In Auckland, drizzly showers and increasing dry spells were expected throughout the afternoon, before showers and blustery winds once again arrived later today and this evening.
Duncan said there were three phases to the weekend weather.
"First this narrow but very active front which is crossing northern New Zealand from west to east.
"The second feature will be more wind, rain and showers from the Tasman Sea as the low moves across the North Island and central New Zealand tonight.
"The third feature is already affecting Southland, in the form of an Antarctic southerly which spreads north tonight and on Sunday, clearing skies for many regions as the day goes on."
Weather Watch advised Kiwis to monitor rain radars and keep an eye on latest forecasts, warnings and weather news in their area.
Civil Defence has warned of a severe weather event for Auckland about 11am.
It advises people not to travel, but to drive to the conditions if travel is essential.
During the storm, people are advised to:
• Stay up to date with weather forecasts.
• Report flooding to council.
• Ensure a torch, radio and spare batteries are to hand.
Weather across the country
Wellington is in for rain at times and a southerly change bringing wind gusts up to 120 km/h, according to MetService's forecast.
It will be cold in Christchurch as rain and possible sleet develop. A severe weather alert issued by MetService warns of snow to the South Island, strong winds in the Cook Straight and heavy rain for the North Island, in particular in the Bay of Plenty from Rotorua eastward, today. Snow is expected to fall in Southland, Fiordland and parts of Canterbury and Marlborough.
Snow is now falling near Gore, as the wintry change hits the South Island bang on time. Weather watch says cold air will move in tonight in the south and then all over the country tomorrow.
Severe thunderstorms have hit Whitianga, Coroglen, Matarangi, Mercury Islands, the southern Coromandel Ranges, Hikuai and Hahei this morning.
MetService said the thunderstorms were now moving east-southeast, and were expected to lie offshore, east of the Coromandel Peninsula, after midday.
A severe thunderstorm warning was also in place for areas including Thames, Coromandel, Hauraki, western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga.
MetService warned that the thunderstorms could be accompanied by damaging wind gusts and possible tornadoes.
It said wind gusts of this strength could break branches from trees, damage roofing, and make driving hazardous especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles while tornadoes can blow out windows, lift roofs, break large branches off trees, generate dangerous flying debris and blow vehicles off the road.
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management advised residents to:
• Take shelter, preferably indoors away from windows
• Avoid sheltering under trees, if outside
• Move cars under cover or away from trees
• Secure any loose objects around your property
• Check that drains and gutters are clear
• Be ready to slow down or stop, if driving