Several flights leaving from Auckland Airport have been delayed or cancelled as wild weather hammers parts of the North Island.
The Auckland Harbour Bridge has also been closed five times today and some coastal residents west of Auckland, and further south in the North Island in New Plymouth and other areas of Taranaki are in for a chilly few hours due to power outages.
PowerCo said tonight about 3000 properties across Taranaki, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty were without power.
Seven domestic flights leaving from Auckland have been cancelled, and the departure of others delayed.
Several international flight departures have also been delayed. A United Airlines flight to San Francisco has been cancelled, and so too has an Air New Zealand flight to Sydney.
The bridge has closed five times today due to heavy winds, with one gust reaching 143km/h west of the city at midday.
Although the bridge is currently open, Waka Kotahi has asked residents to use the alternative SH16/SH18 Western Ring Route to avoid more potential closures.
This afternoon, restrictions caused a massive build-up of traffic on the Southern Motorway heading north, with bumper-to-bumper traffic stretching from Sylvia Park mall all the way to the bridge.
Auckland Transport said wind gusts up to 91km/h blew across the bridge.
During the closures, buses on route were told to pull over and wait for the bridge to reopen.
Meanwhile, some residents in Swanson Piha and Muriwai are without power tonight.
Power has been in some parts of Swanson since about 3.20pm.
In Taranaki tonight, thousands of homes are without power as wild weather hits the region; including strong winds.
The lack of power for some across the region comes as MetService has forecast an overnight low of 13C for New Plymouth overnight.
Kiwis woke today to yet more wild weather with heavy rain and gales tipped to batter the North Island.
Auckland residents were told to expect heavy, possibly squally rain and winds gusting up to 90km/h in exposed places at a top temperature of 18C, while MetService placed the area under a strong wind watch.
Hauraki Gulf Weather tweeted the weather system had produced a wind gust at Manukau Heads of 143km/h or 77 knots.
Weather forecasters had earlier predicted damaging gales blowing up to 110km/h, while strong wind watches are in place for nearly the entire North Island.
MetService said the gales could cause power cuts in Northland, Auckland and Waikato, with the highest winds on westerly coastlines likely to down trees.
Auckland’s cyclone-ravaged west coast settlements, particularly, were in line for powerful gusts.
Waka Kotahi said motorists should heed all travel warnings.
“Drivers of high-sided vehicles and motorcyclists are advised to avoid the bridge and use the western ring route on State Highways 16 and 18.”
In Hawke’s Bay, a Strong Wind Watch was upgraded to a Strong Wind Warning, with severe gales and gusts possibly reaching 120 km/h.
The danger of the powerful gusts is elevated by wet soil from recent deluges, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) said.
MetService said the winds would also particularly impact Muriwai, recently reopened Piha, Karekare and the Awhitu peninsula - all badly hit by Cyclone Gabrielle in February.
The buffeting winds and showers are brought by a moisture-laden, intense low-pressure system rushing over the country from the Tasman Sea since Thursday.
Gales could create huge ocean swells around northern regions of the country, with five-metre waves already recorded today and “larger waves to come”, MetService said.
“Take extra care about the coasts. Keep an eye on these wind watches and warnings over the weekend,” the forecaster said.
MetService said the low-pressure system was seen on satellite imagery surrounded by a “koru of cloud” today.
The strong wind watch in Northland lasts from 3pm today until 9am Sunday.
In western and central Waikato and Waitomo, the watch was in place from midday Saturday until 3am Sunday.
For the Bay of Plenty and eastern Waikato, meanwhile, a strong wind watch was set to lapse at 3pm Friday, but for the eastern Bay of Plenty a heavy rain watch remains in place.
In Taumaranui, Taupō, Taihape, Whanganui and Manawatū, the watch was to begin at 6pm Saturday, lasting until 9am Sunday.
A watch in Taranaki began at 8pm today and lasts until 9pm Sunday.
The double-whammy wind watch and heavy rain warning in Gisborne began at 8am Friday. The watch should end at 7pm today and the rain warning should end at 6pm.
Up to 90mm of rain was forecast to fall about the ranges, along with localised downpours associated with thunderstorms. MetService warned of quickly rising streams and rivers, flash flooding and slips.
Further south, in Tasman west of Motueka, a heavy rain watch was in place for 31 hours from 8am yesterday until 3pm today. Up to 160mm of rain could fall in that time.
Slips are possible there, along with surface flooding from intense rainfall during thunderstorms. Up to 25mm of rain was possible in an hour.
MetService said the weather should improve on Sunday but frequent showers were likely in the west of both islands until “at least” early next week.