A lightning strike during a major storm hit and split a 150-year-old redwood tree about 50m from a Te Awamutu farm worker's cottage.

Tuesday's thunderstorm dumped record amounts of December rain across the Waikato and Auckland regions, while lightning strikes killed cows at Te Kowhai and injured a woman in Mangere.

In Te Awamutu the storm moved straight over much of the region — lightning strikes and accompanying thunder were right overhead.

On the eastern side of town the strikes were alarmingly close to Alan and Bev Empson's home, and even closer to their worker's cottage.

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A before and after view of the farm from Alan and Bev Empson's home on Cambridge Rd. Photo / Supplied
A before and after view of the farm from Alan and Bev Empson's home on Cambridge Rd. Photo / Supplied

One strike hit and split a 150-year-old redwood tree about 100 metres from the house, and just 50m from the cottage.

Alan had recently taken a photo of the view from the house, which shows the tree intact. A corresponding image taken Tuesday afternoon shows the tree was split clean in half.

He said the whole house shook when the lightning struck and wood from the tree flew 50m in all directions. One of the larger pieces took down power lines on their property.

A closer view of the damage caused by Tuesday's lightning strike. Photo / Supplied
A closer view of the damage caused by Tuesday's lightning strike. Photo / Supplied

Meanwhile, the cows at Te Kowhai met a horrific end after a lightning strike.

James Miles told 1 NEWS the cows died from a single lightning strike.

"It was an unreal feeling thinking that could of easily been myself or the boss," he said

"We were milking the last row and had a little joke about better get the wife to pick him up to take him home 'cause we might get struck by lightning.

"We had a little chuckle about that and we carried on our way, and the boss left on quad bike to go home," he told 1 News.

"About five minutes later, I got a call saying to quickly turn the power off - we have had four cows struck by lightning."