A Wellington Electricity spokesman said "most" of its customers now had power after more than 500 homes in the Wellington region were without power earlier this morning.

"Some customers in Aro Valley and Johnsonville are without power, I can't say how many but it's only a small amount," he said.

He said the power restoration effort was almost complete.

"It's under control. Our crews have been working overnight, and they're trained for this."


Wellington Airport staff are advising travellers to expect delays making their way to the airport, as downed power lines are blocking a lane of Cobham Drive.

Last night the Wellington Fire Service was kept busy removing trees and downed power lines from roads, securing lifted roof iron and fences which were being blown around.

Shift manager Mike Wanoa said every brigade in the region was out attending weather-related events last night between 10pm and midnight.

He said Wainuiomata and Eastbourne were worst affected with numerous reports of property damage.

Strong winds grounded flights and bowled a caravan, and surface flooding affected some areas around Otago as wild weather made its way up the country yesterday.

In a three-hour period between about 2pm and 5pm yesterday, wind and rain swept across Dunedin, forcing a halt to flights in and out of Dunedin Airport and causing surface flooding in Portobello Rd during a high tide.

Wild winds forced the closure of parts of two state highways last night.

State Highway 6 at Haast Pass remains closed this morning because of tree debris on the road.

Debris also caused the closure of the Kaiapoi-to-Woodend section of SH1 in Canterbury yesterday.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said Dunedin's strongest wind gust was 128km/h, at Swampy Summit, while at the airport winds gusted to 93km/h.

The regions did not escape the blustery conditions, Oamaru recording gusts of up to 91km/h and Roxburgh 83km/h.

Areas of Otago recorded up to 30mm of rain, with 13mm per hour recorded in some areas.

Central Otago police warned motorists to take care on SH85 between Ranfurly and Omakau after high winds blew over a caravan near Lauder.

Senior Constable Darren Cox said wind gusts of up to 110km/h were making it difficult for motorists.

Air passengers experienced delays and cancellations because of the winds.

Dunedin Airport marketing and communications manager Megan Crawford said flights were cancelled or delayed.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said flights from Christchurch to Dunedin and Wellington to Dunedin got turned back, causing cancellations of the return flights.

Another flight from Wellington to Dunedin was diverted to Christchurch, causing the cancellation of that return flight.

At least one other flight was delayed, the spokeswoman said.

The West Coast was also hammered by severe weather and under a tornado and thunderstorm watch. Pukekura was hit with a 30-minute hailstorm.

Two other vehicles were overturned yesterday; a a trailer on SH73 and a camper van on SH79 between Geraldine and Fairlie.

No one was hurt.

Areas south of Otira were expecting up to 180mm of rain from midnight last night, while north of Otira 140mm was expected.

However, the wild weather that wreaked havoc in the past 24 hours is easing for most of the country.

MetService forecaster Allister Gorman says the conditions are clearing with the wind and rain now moving through the Kapiti-Horowhenua region.

Warnings remain in force for the Wairarapa and Central Hawkes Bay with gales and intense rain expected as the wild weather tracks over central New Zealand today.

Mr Gorman said the capital, which was battered by fierce winds overnight, was now calmer.

"It will be back to a typical windy Wellington day," he said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency reopened the Rimutaka Hill Road at 6am after strong winds overnight made it impassable.

The winds in eastern areas of the upper South Island have since eased revealing a better day.

But on the other side of the main divide showers and rain will continue.

Conditions are forecast to deteriorate further south with more thunderstorms due later today.

Mr Gorman says strong wind warnings remain in force for eastern regions of the North Island.

"This front has still got intense rainfall as it passes over and there will be reasonable rainfall in the regions today."

The upper half of the island will barely notice the rough weather with just a few showers and odd wind gust from Waikato north.