The North Island has experienced 11,323 lightning strikes today and the intense thunderstorm isn't over yet.

Thunderstorms and hail have hit the Eastern Bay of Plenty, causing power outages and small fires.

The weather system is moving north and Hamilton is now experiencing hail, heavy rain and thunder.

Rain and hail storms hit Rotorua this afternoon. / Supplied by Tinelle Sullings

At 07:52 pm, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near Hamilton, Ngaruawahia, Gordonton, Whitikahu and Eureka. These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by very heavy rain and damaging wind gusts and MetService warned residents in Waikato, Matamata and Hamilton City to be prepared for the storm.

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One Herald reader reported surface flooding on Discovery Dr, Flagstaff, in Hamilton.

MetService said this storm had carried the most lightning strikes recorded in one day this year.


Power outages have been reported in several Rotorua suburbs, including Ngongataha Valley and Tikitere after the storm hit the region earlier tonight.

Heavy rain and hail during a thunderstorm in Rotorua. Photo / via Tinelle Sullings video
Heavy rain and hail during a thunderstorm in Rotorua. Photo / via Tinelle Sullings video

Nigel Herbert, owner of Tauranga wedding venue Eagle Ridge, said he saw the thunderstorm roll through Ohauiti from his property's vantage point on Ohauiti Rd and lightning caused trees to burst into flames.

"It was a really active thunderstorm, there must have been 20 different lightning bolts. There was really heavy rain as it went through, no wind at all, which was quite unusual."

Herbert said he had seen plenty of thunderstorms pass by the property but this one was "pretty rare".

"It left some damage in its path. My son Tane flew his drone over and looks like an orchard hedge quite badly burnt."

A Fire and Emergency spokesman said the fire service were at the scene of a tree fire on Hereford Rd in Oropi just before 8pm. He believed the tree and surrounding shrubs caught fire as the result of a lightening strike.

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Fire and Emergency had also received reports of a second fire, possibly caused by lightening, on Jacks Lane in Oropi.

Earlier, severe thunderstorms hit eastern Bay of Plenty and the Central Plateau.

"We see a lot of weather patterns moving through but nothing quite as spectacular as today's thunderstorms. Lots of lightning and lots of noise," Herbert said.

WeatherWatch.co.nz warned the downpours were "dramatically developing" and people should head inside if they can hear thunder.

"This is very dangerous weather with cloud to ground lightning strikes and torrential downpours with hail which could lead to localised flash flooding," head forecaster Philip Duncan said.

Heavy downpours would pop up through inland areas of both islands over the next couple of days, he said.

The hail outside a Rotorua house. Photo / Supplied
The hail outside a Rotorua house. Photo / Supplied

MetService issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Kawerau and Rotorua.

MetService said a radar detected severe thunderstorms near Kawerau, Edgecumbe, Waiohau, Matahina and Te Teko at 5pm.

These severe thunderstorms were slowly moving towards the northwest.

MetService warned the thunderstorms would be accompanied with very heavy rain that could cause surface and/or flash flooding.

A severe thunderstorm watch is also in place for Waikato, Waitomo, Taumaranui, Taupo, Taihape, and Gisborne.

Wowsers!! At least it’s not hot now

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