As ex-cyclone Fehi unleashes its fury on New Zealand, people's work days, school days and travel plans are being turned upside down.

The worst of the storm is slamming the top of the South Island, around Nelson, Mapua, Richmond, and Waitara in Taranaki.

Weather in Wellington was getting progressively worse, with winds above 110km/h slamming the capital.

Residents on the West Coast were being advised to avoid travel where possible and stay away from the coast.

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While Auckland had escaped the worst of the storm, locals are being warned more trouble could hit later on. Tamaki Drive is open again after a king tide sparked its closure, but could be closed once again when another high tide hits tonight.

Multiple flights scheduled for departure from Auckland and Wellington airports were being cancelled due to treacherous weather.

Auckland:

After a wet and wild morning, Auckland's Tamaki Drive is now open to the public.

The Transport Agency said the road had been re-opened after tidal inundation had been receded.

However, locals were being warned more trouble could strike in the area later on when another high tide hits around 8.30pm.

Taranaki:

Thirty households have been evacuated in Waitara.

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Taranaki Civil Defence said a coastal storm surge and high winds combined to flood the east bank of the Waitara River at midday.

About 30 houses were evacuated as a precaution and people are sheltering at the local library.

MetService was also warning of winds gusting up to 130km/h later today.

Wellington:

Heavy rain and wind gusts were impacting flights with at least nine cancellations and multiple delays.

Wind gusts are now reaching 106 km/h through the capital city.

The worst is expected to arrive in late afternoon to evening, with the heavy rain starting around 4pm, and peaking around 8pm when 2.3mm is expected.

Wellington's predicted to get a total rainfall of around 3.6mm.

The transport chaos extended to train lines. Services had been suspended on the Kapiti line between Porirua and Plimmerton - but were now back on track.

MetLink said the high tide and high winds looked to have damaged the seawall.

Crews inspected the track, however found there was no substantial damage.

The top of the South Island

The Nelson Tasman Group Emergency Operations Centre has been activated and the whole of the Monaco area in Nelson City, as well as Ruby Bay, Mapua and Collingwood has been evacuated.

Civil Defence centres had been set up in these spots for displaced residents.

High tide had caused chaos this morning, inundating Rocks Rd along Nelson's coast.

Nelson-based electrician Leon Hood was caught up in the flooding around 10.30am and said the area was in "an absolute state".

The 20-year-old had a traumatic drive along Rocks Rd, SH6, this morning before the road was closed off to the public.

"There was a massive, super high tide and the waves were coming right up over the road," Hood said.

"We were kinda the last lot of cars that went through there before they closed it off."

While his journey driving along the land-side of the road was fine, Hood said cars driving towards him weren't so lucky.

"There were smaller cars approaching us and the waves were completely swamping them, washing right over them."

Hood said he had managed to make it to his job but he had colleagues whose commute had been disrupted.

Rocks Rd was now closed to the public, along with Takaka Hill and the Coastal Road around Ruby Bay.

The West Coast:

West Coasters are holding on tight as gales cause widespread power cuts and road closures.

State Highway 6 is closed between Hokitika and Haast, and Westport to Greymouth.

Greymouth's CBD is closed due to wind damage.

Gale force winds are still being experienced throughout the West Coast as the storm moves towards Canterbury.

The region's Civil Defence spokeswoman Nichola Coftley says residents should not be travelling unless it's absolutely necessary.

She says there are a lot of trees down and flying rubbish and debris causing road closures, and they can't begin the cleanup until the wind dies down.

Meanwhile, Hokitika was currently off the grid.

Transpower warned it may take some time for it to be restored due to the severe weather.

"Our crews are currently planning a safe entry to the site, so they can assess the cause of the damage and begin restoration," Transpower communications manager Clea Marshall said.

Residents and businesses in Hokitika should prepare to be without power for some time.

Dunedin:

In Dunedin yesterday it was a balmy 35C - today schools are being forced to close early as the area prepares for slips, flooding and road closures.

A handful of schools in South Dunedin were closing early due to deteriorating weather.

These included Queen's High School, Musselburgh High School, St Clair Primary School and Bathgate Park School.