The upper North Island has been pounded by constant heavy rain overnight, with widespread surface flooding presenting treacherous conditions for morning commuters.
The Coromandel region has had the worst of it, copping 130mm of rain from 5pm - 5am, MetService said. Several schools in the region are closed for the day due to flooded roads.
Fresh heavy rain warnings have been issued for the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty through till this evening, with flooding and slips possible.
The northern fire service has been called to around 60 weather-related jobs since last night, mostly dealing with fallen trees and power lines.
In Auckland power was knocked out at hundreds of homes after the city was battered by wind gusts peaking at 100km/h between midnight and 3am.
In Thames, 40 freedom campers were forced to evacuate this morning from rising floodwaters near the airfield.
Power is out in parts of the Coromandel and major flooding closed some sections of State Highway 25, but by 9.30am the road had reopened as the waters subsided. Drivers are warned to take care with surface water and slips on roads across the region.
Whenuakite School south of Whitianga and Karangahake School are closed for the day, and there are reports on social media that Te Wharekura o Manaia and Hikuai School are also closed. Rubbish collections are also being postponed in parts of the district thanks to road closures.
Local Karlene Moses filmed SH25 at Manaia completely covered in floodwaters earlier this morning. By 9.30am the waters were down and the road was passable but it could flood again if the rain continued, she said.
Just before 11am the MetService issued new heavy rain warnings for the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel regions, lasting until 5pm.
Heavy rain warnings were also in place till Wednesday for parts of Gisborne and Hawke's Bay.
Flooding and slips were possible, the forecaster said.
Civil Defence Waikato says 182mm of rain was recorded over 24 hours to 5am at the Pinnacles.
"Stay away from rivers and streams at the [moment] and drive carefully," a warning says.
"High tide on the east coast is around 9am. Power outages in a few places too so please give the lines teams space to work so they can get home safe to their families once they've put your power back on.
"Also wind may have left debris on the roads where you drive so please be extra careful and allow extra time for travel this morning."
Many residents across the Bay of Plenty will have awoken to the aftermath of a stormy night in the region.
Trees down, garden sheds blown over and even roofs lifting up were just some of the damage experienced by residents, especially in the Western Bay overnight.
On top of that, PowerCo was reporting that more than 100 homes in both Tauranga and Waihī were without power as a result of the strong winds.
Fire services were kept busy with a number of weather-related call-outs that included extensive cleanups and checks.
A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said crews spent about an hour clearing a big tree from State Highway 2 near Tanners Pt about 2.20am.
A few hours later another large tree came down on State Highway 2 near Te Puna.
A number of call-outs came from Whangamatā, with one person concerned that their roof was blowing off as a result of the strong winds.
In Waihi, fire crews were called to a garden shed blowing over.
Metservice meteorologist Sarah Haddon said it was estimated the Western Bay of Plenty felt wind gusts upwards of 110km/hr overnight.
However, some of the strongest wind was recorded at White Island in the Eastern Bay of Plenty with gusts up to 160km/hr, she said.
Rainfall in both Tauranga and Rotorua was not excessive but wind gusts reached 60-70kmh in both centres.
There are also reportedly trees and power lines down across roads in Kāwhia, south of Raglan.
In Auckland, sheets of water fell in the early hours of this morning causing surface flooding on motorways. Flooding forced the closure of one lane near Greenlane for safety reasons, while deep water surprised motorists at the Fanshawe St offramp.
Overhead signs warned motorists to be extra careful on the drive into town. A nose-to-tail crash around 6am blocked the left lane citybound near Hill Rd.
Power outages across Auckland
Large swathes of rural south Auckland have been dealing with power outages overnight. Counties Power crews have been working through the night to restore power after wind and falling debris brought down lines in numerous areas, especially in the west and south.
At 4am the power company said it would still take time to get the power back on in many areas, with rural Waiuku, Ōtaua, Aka Aka, Pukeoware, Onewhero, Pukekawa, Mercer, Waikaretu and west of the region - plus east around Kaiaua and Mangatangi affected.
"Don't forget to check on your neighbours in the morning, especially if they are elderly and live alone. Drive slowly and look for downed lines and trees and branches on the roads," Counties Power said.
"Please call us immediately if you see a downed line on 0800 100 202 and stay well clear." Check your outage is logged at https://www.countiespower.com/outages.
A Vector spokeswoman told the Herald there had been several power outages in pockets around the northern part of Auckland.
"But crews were prepared and in place to respond quickly, which meant there was a minimal impact on customers,'' she said.
Most of the outages were due to trees and other vegetation that had come down in the wild weather.
The spokeswoman reminded people that any powerlines damaged or brought down should be treated as live.
Northern fire communications shift manager Daniel Nicholson said the fire service had been called out to about 35 weather-related incidents in the upper North Island by 5.30am.
All incidents were wind-related, he said, and had been mostly trees brought down by strong gusts in parts of Auckland, around the Waikato and Western Bay of Plenty.
Nicholson said most trees brought down had been on roads and had not caused any damage to buildings.
By 9.20am shift manager Craig Dally said the tally had reached 60 jobs, mostly downed trees and power lines.
Te Aroha and Matamata fire crews dealt with numerous fallen trees after high winds ripped through the Waikato. Locals were warned to drive with extreme caution. Surface flooding and debris were still affecting SH26 near the Te Aroha golf course this morning.
Heavy rain, winds hit 100km/h
The heavy rain and strong winds in the upper North Island started to pick up late yesterday morning and afternoon, leading to tragedy.
Swells of 5-6m and 40-50 knot gusts sank a yacht off Northland's coast, leaving one person dead.
Four sailors were aboard a yacht that sank 20km north of Cape Brett about 1pm yesterday.
The four sailors said they were abandoning their vessel, having lost their life raft in the rough seas. Three were winched to safety and taken to Whangārei Hospital but a fourth person died. He has been named as well known Tauranga sailor and Act Party candidate Stuart Pedersen.
MetService meteorologist Micky Malivuk said overnight wind gusts of up to 90km/h were reported on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and at more than 100km/h near the Waitemata Harbour and exposed parts of Manukau Heads.
The station at the Auckland Airport reported gusts of about 60km/h overnight, Malivuk said.
Whangaparāoa, north of Auckland, also copped a drenching, as did eastern parts of the North Island, he said.
Severe weather warnings for heavy rain remain in place for the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty west of Te Puke. The warning is valid until 11am.
People in those areas are told to expect between 100 to 140mm of rain about the ranges, with 70mm to 90mm nearer the east coast.
Wind gusts of 160km/h were recorded at White Island overnight, while Western Bay of Plenty saw gusts of between 100-115km/h.
Malivuk said the band of rain over the North Island would start to ease over the next few hours.
"But then it will ease to showers this morning - most of the showers should ease this evening. But expect a showery day today.''
The high winds in around Auckland, in particular, have already started to drop early this morning.
However, a strong wind warning remains in place for Waikato from Cambridge northwards - especially near the Kaimai Ranges - and Bay of Plenty west of Matatā. The warning is valid until 8am.
"East to southeast winds are expected to rise to severe gales gusting 120km/h in exposed places during this time.''
Locals are being told to keep an eye on weather updates.
The MetService has also issued heavy rain warnings for Gisborne from Tokomaru Bay northwards, where periods of rain could bring between 120mm to 150mm of rain until 9am.
Today's fierce weather conditions come as a result of a deep low forecast to move southeastwards across the upper North Island today, before moving away to the east tomorrow.
The MetService said most of New Zealand will get a reprieve on Thursday - when mostly fine conditions are expected - before another low heads towards the country on Friday; once again bringing bad weather.
The forecast is for more rain today for most of the North Island, with heavy rain turning to showers later.
Whangārei Temperature high 19C, overnight low, 13C. Cloudy with showers, possibly heavy and thundery, easing evening. Northeasterlies turning southwest from evening.
Auckland 19C, 12C. Cloudy with showers, possibly heavy and thundery, easing by evening. Northeasterlies, strong in exposed places, turning southerly tonight.
Hamilton 18C, 9C. Periods of rain, possibly heavy, easing from afternoon. Strong southeast, possibly gale at first, easing by afternoon.
Tauranga 17C, 12C. Periods of rain, with some heavy and possibly thundery falls. Strong easterlies, gale gusting 110km/h at first.
New Plymouth 19C, 10C. Mostly cloudy with occasional rain, easing afternoon. Strong, gusty southeasterlies, easing by evening.
Napier 16C, 12C. Rain turning to showers this afternoon, chance heavy at times. Strong easterly easing afternoon.
Whanganui 17C, 10C. Cloudy with some rain, easing from afternoon. Strong southeast, easing afternoon.
Wellington 13C, 10C. Periods of rain developing morning. Southeasterlies, rising to gale in exposed places in the morning.
Nelson 15C, 9C. Cloudy, light rain possible at times. Southerly winds.
Christchurch 13C, 9C. Cloudy with some drizzle, clearing for a time in the afternoon. Easterlies.
Dunedin 13C, 7C. Mostly cloudy. Northeasterlies.