By RNZ

An Auckland man says he's just thankful there were no injuries last night after a violent tornado suddenly blew in his front door and lifted his roof as his family were watching television at their St Heliers home.

Craig Hawkins had settled in for the night with his two sons, Billy and Mikey, on Ashby Avenue when the small, intense tornado touched down between his house and his next-door neighbour's.

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Wild weather: The Cloud in tatters, lightning hits house

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He told RNZ's Morning Report that his property looked like a "war zone" when he woke-up this morning.

The tornado had left the household with no power, after it severely damaged one side of the roof, smashed windows of his living room, ripped off sliding doors and blew down all his boundary fences. Hawkins said half of his neighbour's roof had ended up in his back yard.

A roof of one home was severely damaged and had partially blown off. Photo / RNZ
A roof of one home was severely damaged and had partially blown off. Photo / RNZ

During the incident, which Hawkins estimated lasted just 10 to 15 seconds, his two sons ducked for cover as the menacing rumble reached a destructive crescendo, with one of them hiding under the dining room table.

"The place looks like a war zone to tell you the true, it's a shambles. There's debris everywhere, so a big clean-up job ahead of us I guess," Hawkins said.

He said he hadn't slept much and was still adrenalised since the drama of the previous night, knowing the extent of the clean-up ahead of him.

"My first mission this morning is to arrange some electricity. We have no power because a tree at the front of the house on the road ripped all the powerlines out when it fell.

"It was a hell of an experience, of the whole front door getting blown off into the lounge, when we were just sitting watching television."

Fire and Emergency said it received a dozen reports of damage to buildings in the St Heliers area, which included a pre-school.

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There were five reports of damage to roofs. A house was also struck by lightning in Kumeu. It was estimated over 2000 lightning strikes hit regions across the country yesterday.

Meanwhile, the extent of damage to The Cloud events centre at Auckland's Queens Wharf has yet to be determined.

Last night the distinctive PVC doom of the events centre - build in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup - lifted and some of it was reported to have blown into the harbour.

This morning security guards were patrolling outside the building as a cordon stopped the public from entering Queens Wharf.