Welcome to your day of reprieve, weather-battered Kiwis.

It was a wild winter's day for thousands across the country yesterday as a tornado ripped through New Plymouth, damaging two buildings and forcing frightened pre-schoolers to shelter in a hallway, and lightning, downpours and hail swept across South Auckland just before 6pm.

And in Northland, a young family of four on a trip to buy pies and cigarettes were left shaken but unharmed after a lightning strike shattered the windscreen of their Ford Laser GL at Aranga, 34km northwest of Dargaville.

"Everything lit up in front of us in a split second and then there was a bang at the exact time the windscreen was shattered," Brittany Woodman-Haynes said.

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"I've never seen anything like it ... it was terrifying."

A young family of four were travelling in this car when its windscreen was struck by lightning in Northland. Photo / Supplied
A young family of four were travelling in this car when its windscreen was struck by lightning in Northland. Photo / Supplied

Woodman-Haynes was in the front passenger seat while her partner Stephen Traill was driving. Their children, aged 2 and 5, were in the back seat. The eldest was screaming in fear after the frightening incident, Woodman-Haynes said.

MetService meteorologist Andy Best said a "train of lightning strikes" passed across Northland's west coast at Baylys Beach between 12.45pm and 1.15pm yesterday.

There were also frightening scenes in New Plymouth yesterday, after a tornado struck on Oropuriri Rd in the city's northeast, damaging two buildings.

A man cheated potential death when sheets of iron came blowing down a valley as a tornado ripped through.

Taranaki man Mike Green watched from his workshop as a sheet of iron smashed into a resident's ute.

The man inside told Green he had seen the eye of the tornado.

"He ducked down in his vehicle because he thought he was going to lose his head, and the iron bounced off my wing mirror and smashed into the back of his ute. He thought that was it, he was s****ing himself."

Slight tornado came past work today, metro fires bore the brunt of it and the wing mirror on my car didn’t fair too well....

Posted by Mike Green on Thursday, 11 July 2019

Pioneer Manufacturing Ltd, also known as Metro Fires, lost its roof and 25 to 30 sheets of iron, some of which blew hundreds of metres, Green said.

At nearby Kidszone Preschool, head teacher Jess Sandford saw the roof being ripped off.
"It was a little bit surreal ... it took me a moment to realise, that's not rubbish, that's actually corrugated iron flying off someone's roof."

She rushed to the main room of the pre-school, where 27 children aged between 2 and 5 were, and evacuated them to the hallway.

"I just screamed 'lockdown'."

Pre-schoolers sang Incy Wincy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and some of the 15 babies and toddlers at the neighbouring under 2s section slept, as all sheltered in hallways, she said.

Auckland's turn for wild weather followed around 6pm when a burst of downpours, hail and thunder and lightning rolled across southern suburbs. The turn in the weather followed a third straight morning where the city was shrouded in fog.

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris said a rain band crossing the country today would clear before this morning, but relief would be temporary.

A fine day was expected in North Island centres, with only a shower or two in New Plymouth and rain by night fall in Wellington. The South Island would be dry in the east, with some showers in Nelson and rain in the west and deep south.

Rain would be "on again, off again" across the country through to Wednesday, Ferris said.

The rain affecting some South Island areas today would begin moving up the country overnight.

Enjoy the settled weather today. It won't last. File photo / Brett Phibbs
Enjoy the settled weather today. It won't last. File photo / Brett Phibbs

Today was definitely the best bet weather-wise for the North Island, he said.

"It's quite similar for the South Island in eastern areas. [Today] looks pretty good. Monday again is looking relatively dry for the North Island."