Heavy rain and strong winds hammered the North Island yesterday as Cyclone Dovi felled trees and power lines, damaging roads and forcing authorities to close the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
Wild weather also saw the cancellation of at least 100 flights, stopped Interislander ferry services, cut power to many parts of the country and plunged up to 50,000 Auckland households in blackout.
Several households in Wellington were evacuated overnight on Saturday as several landslips hit the area.
As the mop up begins, authorities warned further travel disruptions are likely. Drivers are urged to take care on damaged roads today, and Vector said it could take days to reconnect power for some Auckland homes.
At least one man was hurt after a tree fell on a vehicle in Raglan yesterday, but there were also lucky escapes.
Auckland nurse Vinosh Kumar and two friends were driving to Hamilton when a large tree fell on their truck, a large trunk missing them by centimetres.
"Two more seconds and 100 per cent we'd be in hospital," he told the Herald. "I thought we were going to die, that moment, it was the first in my lifetime ... totally unexpected."
He could hear people screaming around him before several locals helped free their truck from the branches.
Kumar said it was incredibly lucky no one was hurt and their vehicle not even damaged. They drove off just as they heard emergency services arriving.
The incident is one of hundreds of callouts emergency services responded to on Sunday, the majority in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Wellington. Most of them were related to trees and power lines down, said Fire and Emergency.
Auckland saw widespread power outages across nearly every part of the city, with up to 50,000 customers without power at the worst point of the day.
North Shore resident Andrew Simpson said the power cut off at his Schnapper Rock home at 8.30am and was only restored in the evening.
Simpson and his partner had charged battery packs to keep their mobile phones alive and had a gas barbecue to cook with, but said the lack of information throughout the day-long outage was upsetting.
"It's frustrating," he said. "How long was it going to be off? We just didn't know."
Vector general manager for operations and maintenance Marko Simunac said crews are working around the clock but the volume of outages and their locations - some in rural areas - meant full restoration may take a few days in some cases.
"Our crews are working with extra Covid-19 safety precautions in place, such as smaller crew bubbles. This helps keep our crews safe, but it could mean that outages take longer than usual to resolve," he said.
The public is asked to stay well away from downed lines and call 111 if they see any.
Power outages were also reported in parts of Northland, Taranaki and Waikato.
NZ transport agency Waka Kotahi said many road surfaces have been damaged by heavy rain and the focus is moving from clean-up to repair as the weather eases.
Crews will be out in force repairing roads across the country to ensure highways remain safe, said national response team leader Mark Owen.
"Driving conditions will remain hazardous in many areas for some time, with the risk of surface flooding, slips, tree branches or even power lines down on the road.
"The high winds from this weekend have wreaked havoc with utilities, and road lighting is likely to be non-operational on some parts of the state highway network for several hours."
Some roads would remain closed and lane closures or other restrictions were in place for many others.
Drivers are urged to slow down and take extra care if they need to drive on Monday.
Wind gusts of up to 109km/h, well in excess of the 90km/h threshold for safe use, forced the NZ transport agency to close the Auckland Harbour Bridge at 9.30am on Sunday.
The bridge was reopened at 2pm with speed restrictions in place.
"Closing the Harbour Bridge is not a decision we take lightly, but it was necessary in order to keep everyone safe today," Owen said.
Wild weather also disrupted travel plans, with Air New Zealand cancelling at least 100 flights, with further cancellations likely.
The airline said the cancellations were due to strong winds into and out of the North Island, and they were working through recovery flights for affected customers.
Its contact centre was experiencing a high volume of calls and longer wait times.
All Interislander sailings on Sunday were also cancelled, with disruptions likely today.
In the greater Wellington region, landslides damaged a Houghton Bay home and another in Plimmerton, leading to the evacuation of several other houses, said police.
The cyclone had little impact on anti-mandate protesters in the capital, however, who had been camped on the Parliament lawn for the sixth day, laying hay on the saturated, muddy lawn.
WeatherWatch said Dovi made landfall over the Waikato on Sunday afternoon as an ex-tropical storm, and winds are forecast to ease in most places across Monday.
Today will signal a welcome weather change for many in northern parts of the country as temperatures are forecast to drop after seeing a conveyor belt of high humidity from the tropics.
Overnight minimums would fall to early and mid-teens in the North Island, a big change from the minimums in the 20s Aucklanders and others had been experiencing last week.
"Once the low moves away tonight and into tomorrow we're getting into a much cooler southerly flow," the MetService said yesterday.
"The silver lining for Aucklanders is we'll see this air mass change and it'll be a whole lot easier to sleep going into the new week."