A young Auckland couple has escaped unscathed after their ute was hit by lightning during the severe storm that continues to thrash the country.
Just minutes after Emily Pouwhare's parents told her and her husband Stefan to drive carefully through the gales and rain their white Mitsubishi Terrano was struck while travelling on Vipond Rd in Stanmore Bay.
"It seemed like someone had shot a firework less than a metre away. It was the loudest bang," Pouwhare said of the "freaky" moment the lightning struck a metal post at the back of the ute's tray about 9pm on Thursday, before bouncing off.
"We both actually got tingles - when you get an electric shock from a tramp[oline] or a car door, kind of like that."
Pouwhare, 26, and Stefan, 29, had been visiting her parents in Orewa and were returning home - their house is further along Vipond Rd - when the lightning "came out of nowhere".
"It was so bizarre. It happened so fast, our adrenaline was just pumping," she told the Herald.
The ute was not damaged by the lightning strike.
Immediately after arriving home Pouwhare called her parents to tell them what had happened.
Today, she was feeling "pretty lucky" that she and Stefan were okay.
"I should go buy a Lotto ticket," she said.
She had gone to nearby Stanmore Bay beach to survey the damage during a break in the rain this afternoon and told the Herald at least 2m of the bank had collapsed.
Pouwhare said a local resident posted on the community Facebook page last night that a transformer had blown up close to where the ute was hit by lightning.
"There was just chaos everywhere."
The lightning strike was one of many weather-related incidents in the North Auckland area in the past 24 hours.
And about 4.30pm yesterday, a major slip in Birkenhead on the North Shore worsened after a footpath gave way.
The original slip, in October last year, left a 50m wide crevasse near Rawene Rd Reserve and took out a car park.
Further powerful winds and torrential rain in the past 24 hours have added to the destruction, causing a footpath to give way about 4.30pm yesterday, and debris to move downwards about 1m.
Meanwhile, the MetService is warning residents in the mid and lower North Island to prepare for more extreme whether as the storm is forecast to move southeast across the centre of the country tonight.
The heaviest rain is expected about Mt Taranaki, Tongariro National Park, the Bay of Plenty ranges and Marlborough.
Destructive gales will continue to batter the North Island and north Canterbury today and tomorrow.