Fierce thunderstorms are descending on New Zealand from the north as more than 3600 lightning strikes hits the waters above the country this evening.

A Tweet by forecasters NIWA showed the barrage of strikes hitting in 2 and a half hours in a line stretching north from just above Cape Reinga.

Northland and Auckland will also need to brace themselve as MetService warns of gale-force northwest winds and thunderstorms hitting the region between midnight and 6am on Friday.

It comes after wild weather lashed Auckland, prompting a warning to motorists and flooding at a shopping mall.


Auckland copped a soaking as 50 lightning strikes were reported and heavy rain deluged down earlier this evening.

Hail also fell in South Auckland in Alfriston and Takanini, with Jay Jiten Dass sending video of his driveway and car being pelted.

Luckily Dass and his wife and daughter were safely tucked away inside their house with the hail lasting at least 40 seconds, he said.

At least two stores at the Sylvia Park Shopping Centre in Mt Wellington were earlier closed today to customers because of flooding issues.

Shoppers reported seeing water raining down inside the L'Occitane store.

Rachel Simpson told the Herald she walked past the boutique store as staff were positioning buckets to catch water leaking from the ceiling.

"I saw a few other patches [of leaks] near the store next door and you can see some rainwater coming through the cracks.''

Simpson said she walked past the area between 12.20-12.30pm and guessed staff had been working to keep things dry for about 20 minutes.


When she passed the store about 20 minutes later, a security guard was standing outside telling people not to take videos or photos.

By then one of the shops next door had been closed too, she said.

"The doors were closed but when I looked inside ... there was water seeping through the door on the floor.''

Simpson, who lives just up the road from the Sylvia Park, said she regularly visited the mall.

In the past, during heavy rain and bad weather, she had seen staff bring out wheelie bins to catch water leaking through the ceiling.

Rain inside L'Occitane Sylvia park. Video / Rachel Simpson

NZ Fire and Emergency shift manager Scott Osmond said just after 1pm that they had not been called out to the mall for any flooding issues.

He said they had, however, been called to two or three "minor jobs'' where a tree had fallen down. But none of the call-outs had been very serious, he said.

A spokesman for the shopping centre, Campbell Hodgetts, said: "There has been leaking in a couple of stores and we're just trying to get to the bottom of it.''

He said they had staff on the ground at the stores affected and he was due to be updated on the situation shortly.

The Auckland Emergency Management team is warning Aucklanders to be prepared for a windy, wet and thundery period - especially those on the west coast such as residents in Piha and Muriwai.

The authority warned people need to realise that overnight thunderstorms could reach severe status and there is a risk of localised damaging wind gusts, and or a small tornado forming.

"It's a good time to secure outdoor furniture and make sure drains and gutters are clear. Remember to drive to the conditions.''

Satellite images Niwa shared on its social media platforms showed dramatic pictures of active lighting and weather activity over the upper North Island and wider Tasman area this morning.

So far in August there have only been three days with less than 1mm of rain reported at Auckland Airport. The weekend may bring another dry day to parts of the city, with a forecast of isolated showers.

"Saturday is a more settled day for most Kiwis, with a warming atmosphere and higher surface pressures across the country. However, more unsettled weather is encroaching on the South Island during the latter half of the weekend," MetService meteorologist Angus Hines said.

MetService has also got radar images showing active bands of showers bringing thunderstorms in and around the Auckland region at the moment.

People are being told to keep an eye on the forecast and to stay up-to-date in particular with any severe weather warnings, as there is a risk of severe thunderstorms overnight.

There are currently a number of severe thunderstorm watches in place - issued by MetService - for Auckland, Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato and Waitomo.