Northland, northern Auckland and Taranaki were buffeted by thunderstorms and high winds last night, as much of the rest of the country basked in sunny spring weather.

Vector reported 182 households were without power in Kaukapakapa, north of Auckland, and a further 30 homes were without power in Kumeu.

Power was scheduled to be restored in both areas by midnight.

Hail stones of up to 2cm in diameter were recorded by MetService last night, with Northland and Auckland getting pelted the hardest as thunderstorms made their way across the upper North Island.


Earlier a dinghy was smashed by a falling tree near Whakaipo Bay on Lake Taupo. Matthew and Michelle Whitbread-Edwards said a strong wind gust brought the tree down on top of their dinghy just after 2pm.

"We heard this big wind come through and then next minute this huge crash," Michelle said.

The gust also took out the power line to the family's water tank. The wind blew though quickly and eased.

MetService predicted the storms would ease a little overnight, but still warned of heavy showers and hail this morning.

The severe thunderstorm warning was lifted for the Auckland area at 9.30 last night and a snowfall warning for the desert road was put in place, which will last until 10am today.

WeatherWatch analyst Philip Duncan said isolated thunderstorms and associated wind gusts hit parts of Northland and Whangaparaoa in the early evening but blew over in less than an hour. He expected only temporary effects on aircraft.

Gusts of 110km/h were expected to be whipping through Taranaki northward in exposed places tonight.

"I wouldn't imagine anything big because those thunderstorms are moving around," he said. "Some of the flights will be manoeuvring around them a little bit. That might add a 15- or 20-minute delay in Auckland, and maybe New Plymouth and Hamilton."

Meanwhile Hawke's Bay and other parts of the southern North Island enjoyed sunny spells yesterday, drawing school holiday crowds to local playgrounds.

The MetService said strong winds would continue this morning.