The crisis came during Coro Street.
One minute Opunake's Edna Olliver was watching her favourite soap on television and the next a tornado roared past, snatching the roof from her home as it went.
The same tornado, which lifted the roofs from several other houses and a sports clubrooms, also downed powerlines across Opunake.
Mrs Olliver said everything had been quiet before a line of thunder storms came in from the Tasman Sea bringing with it the tornado which tore down power lines, smashed windows and shattered chimneys about 7.30pm.
"All of a sudden there was this roar and then everything just went ... it only lasted five, or no more than 10 seconds but it was really scary, it really was."
Mrs Olliver was all smiles as emergency services took over the town, blocking off several roads for fear motorists or pedestrians would get caught in power lines that draped across houses and roads.
"We're OK now, we feel OK but it was terrible, eh. It's shocking, I don't want to experience this again."
For her husband, Colin, it was the eerie quiet which followed the storm which was the most affecting.
"I felt a bit like Dorothy. I came out the front door and didn't know if I was in the land of Oz or not," he said. Opunake chief fire officer Rodney Woods said the tornado would have lasted no more than 30 seconds but around 9.30pm the roof of the Ollivers' neighbouring home was still nowhere to be seen.
"I don't know where it is. It's completely gone," he said while surveying insulation and bits of tile scattered across Lanyard St. "I've never seen anything like this before."
As of last night no injuries had been reported from the town but police were cautioning motorists to take extreme caution.
The tornado also left reports of damage in Rahotu and rural areas around Opunake.
Forecaster Oliver Druce of the Metservice said the weather was expected to be calm today but "another big wallop of rain" was due tomorrow.
- © Fairfax NZ News