An Auckland couple is trapped on a Thai island as a tropical storm bears down on the Southeast Asian nation.

Rain, winds and surging seawater have buffeted coastal villages and world-famous tourist resorts, as Tropical Storm Pabuk made landfall on southern Thailand's east coast.

Trees and utility poles have been knocked down and roads flooded.

Thai authorities suspended ferry services and flights and evacuated locals and tourists during a peak tourism season. Beaches and bars were also closed.

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Thousands have reportedly fled islands off Thailand's southeast coast.

One person was reported dead and another missing after a fishing boat with a crew of six capsized in high waves.

Lynne Davis and her husband John were meant to fly home from their 10 day-long holiday on Koh Samui - which is in the firing line - at noon yesterday local time (6pm NZT), but all flights were cancelled.

They are now hoping to return to their Eastern Beach, Howick, home and two teenage children on Monday.

Their hotel had a generator for the intermittent power outages and there was plenty of water and food available, Lynne Davis said.

They had stayed inside and Davis described the weather so far as "pretty wild".

Their room at Beach Republic Hotel was about 200m from the beach and when they had ventured out they saw 2m swells. They had also been told of trees being down and sandbagging to prevent flooding.

The response of the hotel staff had been heartwarming, from reducing the room rate for their unexpected stay to also cutting prices in the hotel restaurant and making sure everyone was informed and ok.

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"They've been absolutely amazing ... and some of them live near the beach and have their own homes and families to worry about."

The worst of the storm occurred yesterday morning local time, but they had been warned there could be another bout of stormy weather late last night local time, Lynne Davis said.

The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 70kmh (42mph), hit the shore of Nakhon Si Thammarat province Friday afternoon and was roaring westward at 20kmh (12 mph), Phuwieng Prakhammintara, director-general of the Thai Meteorological Department, told overseas media yesterday.

While torrential rain and strong winds were expected to affect more than a dozen other provinces, Nakon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani, home to the tourist islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, were expected to be the hardest hit.

The Meteorological Department said yesterday morning that waves 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) high were possible in the Gulf of Thailand on the east coast, and 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) high in the Andaman Sea on the west coast.

There were fears the storm would be the worst to hit Thailand since 1989, when Typhoon Gay left more than 400 dead. A tropical storm in 1962 killed more than 900 in the south.