Hundreds of homes in the Rotorua and Taupo area are without power after a second winter storm hit New Zealand overnight.

Heavy rains and high winds battered the North Island since yesterday afternoon, leaving about 520 Unison customers without power this morning, New Zealand Newswire reports.

Almost 300 Powerco customers are still without power a week after heavy snow took out power lines and poles on the Central Plateau in the previous winter blast to hit the country.

Heavy rain is expected to continue in the North Island this morning, but the worst of the storm is expected to hit the South Island.

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The deep low hanging over the country is expected to bring more than a month's worth of rain to parts of Canterbury over 24 hours.

The MetService says the heaviest rain will hit the eastern South Island, particularly between Dunedin and Canterbury, from this morning. Up to 200mm of rain may fall in Canterbury and eastern Otago by 6am tomorrow, and snow is also expected down to 400m in those regions.

A swathe of warnings have been issued across the country as the school holidays end with a storm that threatens to wreak widespread havoc.

The country is in for two more days of damaging gales, intense rain and snow.

"The combination of heavy rain and strong winds is expected to cause widespread disruption to transport, localised flooding and slips," the MetService said.

"Winds of this strength can cause damage to trees, powerlines, unsecured roofs and structures, and make driving hazardous. Also in the South Island, wind-chill due to cold temperatures and strong winds could cause stress to livestock."

Last night the Bay of Plenty was in the firing line. The already-sodden area was braced for up to 110mm of rain to fall over 12 hours, and up to 20-30mm an hour, as well as gales around Coromandel Peninsula.

Flood alerts were issued, with the worst downpours last night forecast for the area east of Opotiki.

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Fallen trees block a road near Rotorua. Photo / NZME
Fallen trees block a road near Rotorua. Photo / NZME

Roofs peeled off and trees toppled as the foul weather took hold across the region. Fire and Emergency said it dealt with 36 weather-related callouts as gales and heavy rain tracked south in the darkness.

Roofs were lifted from a Waihi Beach home and a telephone exchange building in Murupara.

In Hicks Bay, the fierce gales destroyed a shed.

A house was also flooded in Taupo when rain poured through the roof.

In Rotorua severe gales took down trees and road signs and sent trampolines flying.

Power remains cut to hundreds of homes, most near Lake Okareka, as Rotorua was battered by heavy rain and winds gusting up to 120km/h. Surface flooding affected some roads.

Power outages also affected hundreds in Kinloch near Taupo and Pyes Pa in Tauranga.

Auckland was hit by winds of up to 100km/h but escaped the worst of the rain, as did Wellington.

Power was cut across the region but Vector said it had since been restored, the final repairs finishing just after 5am.

Showers, possibly heavy, are expected in the upper North Island today, with hail and thunderstorms possible overnight in Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton.

In the South Island, the Kakanui, Shag, Kauru and Waianakarua Rivers in North Otago and the Leith, Silver Stream and Taieri Rivers are all expected to rise swiftly and emergency services are on watch.

Southern District Police operations manager Inspector Amelia Steel warned motorists to "hold on to the steering wheel firmly" in gusty areas over the next two days and to be alert for black ice. Steel said motorists should take blankets, snacks and a fully charged phone, just in case.

Emergency Management Otago is also monitoring the situation.

The outlook

Auckland:

Showers, some heavy with possible hail. High 14C, Low 10C.

Tauranga:

Showers, some heavy, hail possible. H 15C, L 10C.

Hamilton:

Heavy showers, possible hail. Northwest winds turn northeast. H 13C, L 8C.

Wellington:

Rain becomes showers in morning. Strong northerlies. H 14C, L 8C.

Christchurch:

Heavy rain. Strong southerlies developing. H 11C, L 7C.