Heavy thunderstorms north of Auckland have left locals wondering whether their piece of paradise has been transformed into a winter wonderland.

But Metservice is warning that it's more likely hail build-up as result of the intense thunderstorms striking the area in the past few hours.

There have been around 130 strikes in the Auckland and Coromandel regions in the past six hours.

Local residents were reporting on social media that the "snow-like" substance was falling in Orewa, Millwater and Red Beach.


One resident posted on Facebook that it wasn't Orewa but "Snorewa".

Snow way! Hail settles on Grand Drive in Orewa transforming it into a winter wonderland. Photo / Snapture.co.nz
Snow way! Hail settles on Grand Drive in Orewa transforming it into a winter wonderland. Photo / Snapture.co.nz

Metservice meteorologist Lewis Ferris said strong winds could blow small bits of hail into corners so that it gave a snow-like appearance.

A large number of small pieces of hail had stacked up, making it look like snow had fallen on the roads.

"I would be very surprised if there was any kind of snowfall. It's a very good hail set-up," Ferris said.

"To me it looks like the hail was quite small so they were able to group together quite well, which is why it has that appearance of snow on the ground."

Ferris said the hail formed when there was a lot of circulation in the atmosphere and the very cold liquid formed in the updrafts that were associated with the thunderstorms.

The eastern areas of Auckland's coast as far north as Mangawhai had borne the brunt of the thunderstorms this afternoon.

Earlier this afternoon Fire and Emergency NZ crews were called to a house fire in Gulf Harbour reported to have been caused by a lightning strike, and to flooding in Red Beach.


The thunderstorms had eased in the Auckland region, but were likely to continue to hit the Coromandel for a few more hours.

The thunderstorms were moving away from Waiheke and Orewa over to Thames, Waihi and Whangamata.

"They will be hanging around for the next hour or so but as that wind change pushes through that will move off."

More intense showers were forecast to hit Auckland late morning and early afternoon tomorrow.

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