A 20-metre high tree could have wrecked the lives of a young Lower Hutt family during the storm, but fate was on their side.
Arlene and Ben Adams' hilltop property in Normandale used to be sheltered by the 90-year-old macrocarpa, but it could not withstand the gales about 8.30pm on Thursday.
"We thought it was an earthquake - it was a really strong gust," Mr Adams said. "The house shook."
The power had already gone out - and was still not back on yesterday morning - but they were not expecting the tree to fall.
It split open and fell in two pieces, one narrowly missing the corner of their house, the other crushing two cars.
However, if it had fallen in one piece, it might have crushed them.
"We had five adults and two babies sitting around the fire and it's gone either side of us," Mr Adams said.
Mrs Adams said they only saw how bad the situation was when their guests attempted to leave, but decided to stay the night.
Removing the tree will be a challenge.
"Our neighbour is a tree surgeon," Mr Adams said.
"But he's probably going to be very busy after this."
The couple said they felt lucky to be unhurt and would at least have firewood for some time to come.
"It was such a beautiful tree . . . it was going to be our son's tree house," Mrs Adams said.
The couple's business, Waglands Kennels, is also on their property. Fortunately it too escaped damage.
"We're grateful everyone's all right. The doggies are fine, the humans are fine," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News