Forget land of the long white cloud - this week Aotearoa has been the land of the long wet storm.

And as the last of the thrashing rain, monstrous tides and howling winds dry up - clean ups and repairs are set to begin, with millions of dollars worth of insurance claims expected.

The rapidly developing storm took hold on Thursday, positioned off the west coast of the North Island.

It hit Taranaki with full force at midday on Friday before slowly shifting east bringing torrential rain, gale force winds and flooding across Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty.

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It eased significantly yesterday, with high tide along the Wellington coast early yesterday bringing large swells but no flooding.

Children at Mairangi Bay beach today as high tides battered the coast. Photo by Dean Coleborn, supplied to the New Zealand Herald
Children at Mairangi Bay beach today as high tides battered the coast. Photo by Dean Coleborn, supplied to the New Zealand Herald

The storm took a deadly turn on Friday in Rotorua when a woman was killed after a tree fell onto her vehicle.

Trish Butterworth was believed to be driving when the tree on the corner of Arawa St and Amohia St, known as Spencer's Oak, came down.

A friend posted to the Rotorua Elim Church Facebook page that Butterworth had died, describing her as a "welcoming woman" with a "loving heart".

Her death has been referred to the Coroner and Rotorua Lakes Council said there would be a thorough investigation into the fatal incident. It emerged concerns had been raised about the tree in the past.

One of the worst hit areas in the country was Kaiaua, a town situated on the Firth of Thames.

Hefty storm surges and strong winds significantly damaged the coastal town with saltwater and debris flowing into properties.

Yesterday around 200 people gathered at the Kaiaua Bowling Club to hear from Hauraki District mayor John Tregidga and Hauraki District Council's Civil Defence controller Steve
Fabish about the clean up effort.

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Flooding in Kaiaua, on the Firth of Thames. Laurie Mirko wades down Kowahi Ave. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham
Flooding in Kaiaua, on the Firth of Thames. Laurie Mirko wades down Kowahi Ave. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham

Six rapid assessment teams were going door-to-door checking homes for any structural or electrical problems.

Tregidga said every home would be searched with experts determining how safe the buildings are. Authorities were also seeking to bring in more portable toilets - as most residents septic tanks were full of saltwater.

During the storm, more rain fell in a 24-hour period than for all of November and December combined. At its height winds were of up to 120kmh were recorded in Auckland.

Power cuts were reported in various places with thousands of Kiwis losing electricity and domestic flights in and out of Auckland Airport were also impacted by the weather.

A major slip in Birkenhead worsened after a footpath gave way in severe weather in Auckland. New Zealand Herald Photo by Greg Bowker
A major slip in Birkenhead worsened after a footpath gave way in severe weather in Auckland. New Zealand Herald Photo by Greg Bowker

The clean up bill following the atrocious weather is expected to push into the multi million dollar range, with homes, businesses and key infrastructure needing repairs.

Among the infrastructure damaged during the weather bomb was a seawall at Hudson's Bay, Awhitu, and a jetty at Halfmoon Bay which was smashed, leaving debris in the water.

Yesterday, as a result of "significant" storm damage, heavy rain and king tides the Thames Coast Road, State Highway 25 was closed.

"In many places seawalls have been damaged and whole sections of the road have been washed away by the storm surges which have also left the road littered with rocks and debris," said NZ Transport Agency system manager Karen Boyt.

"Other areas of the Thames Coast Road have suffered upheaval of the road surface as the sea and debris have severely damaged the road surface and the underlying layers.

The thrashing rain also scuppered the ASB Classic tennis tournament in Auckland and Bryan Adams' scheduled gig at Mt Maunganui on Friday night.

The Insurance Council advised anyone affected by the storm to contact their insurer as soon as possible.

"When it's safe to do so, take pictures of any flooding or weather-related damage – this will help your insurer with their assessment when you make a claim," said Insurance Council chief executive, Tim Grafton.

"If property you've already photographed receives further damage, take more photos.

"This is especially important if you need to move damaged or contaminated goods from your house for health and safety reasons."

Grafton said improving community resilience to extreme weather events was a priority.

"New Zealand needs to plan and adapt in ways that will reduce the impact of natural disasters – because every dollar spent in pre-disaster adaptation measures saves many more after an event."