Residents in some parts of South Auckland face a night without power after this morning's violent tornado that uprooted trees, severely damages homes and brought power lines down.
A truck was thrown on to its side in a driveway, a home under construction has been destroyed and roofs were pulled off houses. The power of the wind was so strong it bent wrought iron fences.
A Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokeswoman said firefighters and more than 20 crews attended about 100 calls relating to property damage.
Power is still out in some areas tonight, with residents reporting they've been told they may face days without electricity.
Civil Defence has urged residents to follow advice from authorities, stay away from downed power lines, check on their neighbours and phone 111 if in danger.
A Civil Defence welfare centre has been opened at the Otara Pool and Leisure Centre on Newbury St for those affected by the tornado.
The centre has been providing support to those affected by this morning's incident who are unable to stay with friends and family or have health or welfare needs.
"If your home or property was affected this morning, the welfare centre can offer a range of support," Auckland Emergency Management duty controller Parul Sood said.
"In some cases, accommodation can be provided, however we urge people to reach out to friends and whānau for assistance first," she said.
People should bring medications and essential items, like identification documents, baby needs and warm clothing with them, she said.
Pets, particularly dogs, should be taken care of by friends or whānau where possible, but can be brought to the welfare centre if there was no alternative.
Alternatively people could call Auckland Emergency Management on 0800 22 22 00 for assistance.
The damage is centred around Wentworth Ave in Papatoetoe.
Heather Haylock said she heard a loud noise, which she initially thought was a group of motorcyclists roaring down the street.
"Then the lights started to flicker, then there was this big wind gust.
"Trees were snapped off at the roots, there's a new house being built over the road and it's all over on one side. Cars have been crushed by power poles. It's kinda crazy really."
Haylock said a mother and her baby in the house next door were lucky to escape unharmed after a piece of wood smashed through a large window and into the bedroom where they were sleeping.
"She was obviously really upset. The glass missed the baby - there's a whole series of miracles down the street."
Haylock told how she woke her teenage children and kept everyone safe together.
"My teenagers were asleep and they got woken up … Once we got the family all together and made sure the kids were safe we went out and opened the front door and there was this amazing damage."
Haylock said garage doors were ripped off, as were titles from many nearby homes and parts of a distinctive tree from about 200m down the road were now in her backyard.
"My daughter said there was wood flying past the window and twirling around in the sky. It was just like you see in the movies. I half expected a cow to come flying past."
Another resident said there was nothing left of his neighbour's roof and trees were down.
"It's really bad, I've never seen something like that.
"I can see my neighbour's roof totally has gone, there's just nothing left of the roof, even half of my other neighbour's roof has gone."
He said there was shattered glass and he could see bad damage down the whole street.
'The roofs are gone'
More than 20 fire crews were this morning working with police and ambulance in the area.
Another resident, Prakash Patel, was sheltering inside the Shree Swaminarayan Temple when the tornado came through about 8.15am.
He said there were about four trees ripped down outside on Wentworth Ave and 15 or so fences destroyed.
"Inside the temple there is a door where the glass was damaged," Patel said.
"The glass was completely cracked and fell down. It was kind of dangerous. It [the tornado] was in Wilmay Ave and Wentworth Ave outside the houses there are fences damaged.
"Some of the houses - the roofs are out and many many houses are damaged completely. A lot of damage."
A man living next door to the temple was busy pulling his trampoline off his front fence.
It had been standing in the backyard of the property but was picked up and tossed over the house, landing stuck on the front fence.
He said his son saw the gust. His son was watching the rain at the home's front window when he saw the gust and trampoline land on the fence and ran back inside, saying "Papa, something has happened."
The wind gust took only about 3-4 seconds to wreak damage on about five to 10 homes on the street, the man said.
One home that had recently been bought by first home buyers had had tiles ripped off its roof and a fence blown over. A man inspecting damage to the home could be seen popping his head out the top of the roof where blown--away tiles had left a hole.
'My bedroom was two metres away'
Dr Kanti Patel lives on Wilmay Ave and says his house had the roof smashed in, his fence destroyed and a "huge" tree ripped from its roots landed just two metres from his bedroom where he was.
"Obviously sure [it was dangerous]. On Wilmay Ave the tree fell into the fence and my bedroom was just two metres away," Patel said.
"I don't know where the tree came off the root - just this huge tree and fell onto our fence where my bedroom is.
"We have this huge complex at number 10, 12 on Wentworth Ave and 15 Wilmay Ave and I'm just assessing a few things but I know in Wilmay Ave where I stay, it ripped off the fence, the tree fell onto it, the glass was broken, the fence was gone."
Victoria has been with her mum putting her son into a car in the driveway of their Wentworth Ave home when the tornado blew in all of a sudden.
It buffeted her with such force she had to bend down to keep her balance, as she shielded her infant son in her arms.
She and her mum pressed themselves against the side of the house for shelter as the wind roared about them and debris began flying.
A large branch from the pine tree behind them was brought down and blown into the back of the car - leaving a crack in it - where they had just been.
The three ran around the back and into the house where her worried husband rushed to meet them.
The couple's 5-year-old son was left frightened and crying for the next 20 minutes.
Victoria said she was lucky she had been on the left-hand side of the new home, which they only bought last November.
That was because the major force of the tornado hit the right side of the home.
Standing on the right side of the home, the path of the tornado could be seen as it passed along a narrow band into the home of the neighbours behind.
Fire crews had arrived on Wentworth Ave by 10am to inspect the damage and talk to residents.
'It was over in minutes'
Sannan Tariq was with his wife and two daughters at home on Pallant St in Manurewa when the storm struck.
"We could hear things smashing everywhere. For a minute I was a bit worried that our windows might break but it was over pretty quick, less than five minutes.
"I went outside straight away and saw the debris everywhere."
Big chunks of a tree fell down in the storm and toppled Tariq's front fence. He tried to move them himself, but they were quite heavy.
He was on the phone to the council when he saw a stranger, who was walking by, starting to clean up his driveway.
"I was quite touched by that ... random people chipping in.
"I just shook his hand and said thank you so much."
Papatoetoe mum Melissa Aubroeck described the tornado as terrifying. She said she commented to her children that a really big plane must be landing since it was so noisy.
"Then the wind started and we just watched rubbish flying through the sky. Then just as fast it was over and super calm."
MetService meteorologist Andrew James said there had been 1500 lightning strikes over the past six hours, with just one hitting on land in Auckland.
"The atmosphere is what we call unstable, so conducive to thunderstorms and there are the ingredients there for the possibility of a tornado."
He said the thunderstorm would have been quick and fast-moving. The front is now moving south over the country.
Kiwis have woken to a wet and dreary Saturday morning across much of the country, as heavy overnight falls led to sports being called off in Auckland.
Children's football at Western Springs in the city's inner west was among cancelled competitions affecting hundreds of families as organisers pointed to surface flooding and ongoing rain this morning. Other sports scheduled for this afternoon across Auckland are also being called off.
Motorists were also being warned to take care on roads that are expected to become slippery and with reduced visibility throughout the weekend, as heavy-rain watches came into effect for much of the North Island's east.
Meanwhile, the St Lukes branch of Farmers was closed this morning "due to flooding".