A woman is dead after a tree fell on her car in Rotorua this morning.
A police media spokeswoman said it was believed the woman was driving at the time. She was the only person in the car.
Emergency services were called to Arawa St, near Amohia St, about 10.45am after the tree came down on the car and building.
Arawa St is now closed as emergency services remove the car.
Police say all staff in the building on Arawa St that was also hit by the tree are safe.
One man, who asked not to be named, said it was a horrible thing for any family to go through.
"What a terrible start to the year, it is shocking to see how the tree has just split like that."
The incident would be referred to the Coroner, police said.
Two trees have also come down on Long Mile Rd, in Rotorua. One has fallen onto a car, but no one was in the vehicle.
Contractors have cleared two large trees which came down on Sala and Marguerita Sts.
Marguerita St is down to one lane.
Police had cordoned off both ends of Sala St with diversions in place at MacIntyre and Te Ngae Rds while the tree was cleared.
Some flights in and out of Rotorua have been cancelled, including a Rotorua to Christchurch flight, due to leave at 4pm. At this stage flights from Rotorua to Auckland and Wellington later today, will go ahead.
Average wind speeds peaked at 57km/h at 12pm, according to the MetService website. A total of 55mm of rain has fallen since 2am.
MetService Meteorologist Ciaran Doolin said the trend was for the weather to start easing from mid-afternoon, though a severe weather watch would remain in place for the Bay of Plenty until at least 6pm.
He said the strongest gust measured at Rotorua Airport was 100km/h, while a gust of 150km/h was measured by the Mamaku radar.
"These gusts, measured around noon, fall well within what we consider to be severe gale-force winds.
"This is a deep system that has developed rapidly. It's not atypical for this time of year. It is a significant storm but it happens all times of the year, summer is no exception."
Bay of Plenty Police ask that people avoid all unnecessary travel and take extreme care if out and about during these weather conditions.
"We also ask that people avoid low lying roads and coastal areas across Bay of Plenty as water levels are high making conditions extremely dangerous."
A slip on State Highway 36 at Oropi Gorge Rd has been cleared and both lanes have been reopened, but a 50km temporary speed limit is in place.
A large tree came down on Whittaker Rd in Koutu and in Owhata a large tree fell across State Highway 33 near Banksia Pl, blocking the south-bound lane.
The council's website said contractors had also dealt with trees down in Spencer Rd, Tarawera Rd, Whittaker Rd and Totora Rd.
Meanwhile, 3300 customers are without power in Rotorua and Unison is advising that further power outages are likely across Rotorua, Taupo and Hawke's Bay.
Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said weather in Rotorua had taken a turn for the worse.
"We are seeing an increase in power outages there. So far, damage in Taupo is minimal."
Unison brought in extra crews in preparation for the storm and have crews from Horizon Networks heading to Rotorua to help with restoration.
Rotorua weather is challenging restoration efforts as safety for crews and the public remains the priority.
"We realise it's a long day for those customers still without power and we should have a better idea this afternoon about when we can restore power. In the meantime, we are advising customers in Rotorua to prepare for long periods without power and thank them for their patience as we work to reconnect them."
Since the storm hit, Unison's network at around 10pm last night, a total of around 12,300 customers across Hawke's Bay, Rotorua and Taupo have experienced power cuts.
Stores in Trade Central are among those without power, while traffic lights on Amohau St outside the Central Mall are out.
Around 8.30am 830 people in the Rotoiti Forest lost power. Another 618 at Lake Okareka lost power for a short time just after 10am.
People in Broadlands, Kaingaroa and Tumunui lost power overnight and it is yet to be fully restored.
For the latest information on power outages go to www.unison.co.nz/outages.
Slips on Tarawera and Tumunui roads have now been cleared and both roads are fully open.
A police media spokeswoman said there was a one car crash on State Highway 1 near Tree Trunk Gorge Rd and Kaimanawa Rd at 10.12am.
She said one of the two people in the vehicle was taken to a hospital with moderate injuries.
The council advises motorists to drive with extra care as winds continue.
Debris, slips or trees/branches down on roads can be reported to the council at (07) 348 4199.
Rotorua Lakes Council's civil defence emergency management primary controller Stavros Michael said the council's after-hours call centre dealt with 12 weather-related calls between 4pm yesterday and 3am.
"We're expecting continued wind and rain today which may affect roads and power supply. We will continue to closely monitor the situation until the weather moves on," Michael said.
Overnight roading crews dealt with a few trees down and there was some surface flooding on Vaughan Rd.
Rotorua's wastewater systems, including the treatment plant experienced heavy inflows through the night but were able to cope with volumes going through the system. Council staff remain on high alert.
As at 10pm yesterday, 60.6mm of rain had been recorded at Rotorua Airport and the peak wind gust was recorded at 70km/h.
At the MetService Mamaku radar, winds were recorded up to 106km/h and forecasters warn we haven't seen the worst of the winds yet.
Coromandel, Auckland, Waitomo and the Bay of Plenty are likely to be hit by powerful winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour between 7 and 10 this morning.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council said last night's wild weather had largely passed through the Bay of Plenty.
"High winds and heavy rain brought down power lines in parts of Rotorua and caused slips on some roads, with a few trees also coming down in Rotorua and Whakatane," it said.
"The Waimana River reached its first warning level, with the Kaituna reaching its second warning level this morning. The Tarawera River will peak about mid-morning today, but at a level that is a two-year flow."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council duty flood manager Mark Townsend said there was no cause for concern.
Lake Matahina, in Whakatane, has risen slightly, causing TrustPower to resume spilling water from the Matahina Dam during the night.
"The amount of spill will gradually increase to keep the level of Lake Matahina below 73.15. Again, there is no cause for concern," Townsend said.
State Highway 2 through the Waioeka Gorge is closed because of a slip.
Motorists are advised to postpone any non-urgent travel and use State Highway 35 as an alternative route.
"There has also been a slip on State Highway 35 east of Opotiki that is blocking a lane, and slips in the Rotomas. Please take care on the roads and drive to the conditions," the statement said.
Visit www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic for more roading information.
The storm has peaked but heavy rain bursts are possible this morning and wind gusts of 120km/h are still expected in exposed places until this evening.
High swells are also still expected, and these may still lead to coastal inundation and surface flooding in some areas.
Weatherwatch head forecaster Philip Duncan said the storm system will continue to gain power as it moves down the country.
"The worst of the wind [are] wrapped around the centre of the low, and because the low is still developing we're not likely to see the worst of those winds until the centre of the system comes up and landfall is likely to be somewhere around Taranaki and the rest of the western North Island."
Unison crews responded to a number of power outages overnight, but the rough weather is expected to continue today and Unison advises customers to be prepared for further outages.
Unison relationship manager Danny Gough said high winds and vegetation blowing onto lines caused most of the problems.
"In preparation for the weather, we have had extra crews on overnight who have been restoring power to customers as soon as they can. However, with the rough weather forecast to continue today, we are advising customers to be prepared for further power outages.
Known power outages are on Unison's website www.unison.co.nz/outages and customers are encouraged to visit the website or call 0800 2 UNISON (0800 2 86476) to stay up to date.
Rotorua Senior Sergeant Bill Fisher said branches down and minor crashes kept police busy overnight.
He said the weather had caused a couple of crashes, with one vehicle crashing into a fallen tree near Okere Falls and a motorcyclist crashing into a fallen tree south of Rotorua.
Overnight crews attended two fallen trees on Dansey Rd - both were blocking one lane of the road while a fallen tree was also blocking both lanes on Maraeroa Rd (about 1km from Mamaku).
If the power is out
• Check for fallen or damaged electricity lines.
• Never touch wires or lines lying on the ground, hanging from poles, or objects such as tree branches that may be touching them.
• If you see a power line down, call 0800 2 UNISON.
• Medically dependant customers should let their retailer know and be prepared for power disruptions. If there is an immediate health threat, they should contact their health provider or call 111.
• Turn off the power at the main switch if you suspect any electrical damage in your home.
• If the power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances to prevent possible damage by a power surge when the electricity supply is restored.
• Remember that if the electricity network is damaged, it might take some time to get reconnected, so make sure you have a battery-operated radio, a torch, spare batteries, and a full gas bottle for your BBQ as part of your emergency kit.