The North Island has been hammered by severe weather, with slips, flooding and a tornado keeping emergency services under pressure.
Several houses were damaged in Papamoa, in the Bay of Plenty, this morning when a mini tornado struck.
The twister hit the eastern end of the seaside community about 10am, lifting roofing iron and tiles from houses and skittling fences and small trees.
It was raining heavily at the time and the Fire Service was called to deal with leaks and flooding in several houses around Sarah Place and Wairakei Avenue.
A Fire Service spokesman said fire crews from Papamoa and Mount Maunganui were dispatched to deal with the damage.
''We got a flood of calls from that area, all within the space of around 10 to 15 minutes.''
Firefighters spent around two hours fixing tarpaulins to rooftops to keep the rain out, he said.
Sarah Pl resident Gillian Hurren said she and her husband Michael had been shaken by the experience.
''All up and down the street there's bits of roofs and fences pushed over. We were the first ones hit.
''I didn't see it but my husband saw it come through. It was quite frightening and the heavy rain is still coming down - we are dealing with a few leaks now.''
In Waikato, drivers have been told to avoid all non-essential travel.
Officer in charge of Thames-Coromandel Road Policing, Sergeant Jim Corbett, said several areas were flooded and a number of slips had fallen across roads.
"Flooding has been reported in Tairua, Pauanui and Matarangi, Whitianga and a number of other locations with camping grounds at Opoutere and Cooks Beach flooded," Corbett said this morning. "The community hall at Cooks Beach has been opened to accommodate evacuated campers.
"The eastern side of the peninsula appears to have been hit the hardest and with the next high tide due at 4.38pm there is concern that water level may rise again and we're urging people intending travelling to the area to delay their trip if possible."
Corbett said while local council, traffic management and volunteer fire fighting crews had done sterling work in numerous areas affected by flooding and slips, several more areas were in need of attention.
"Right now the main areas affected appear to be north of Tairua on SH25 heading towards Whitianga where flooding has closed the north bound lane while a slip is causing delays to both lanes on the same highway at Pumpkin Hill."
Police are advising people intending to travel to the area is not to, at least for the next three hours and to monitor the NZTA Highway Information website.
Corbett said for those drivers who still need to use Coromandel roads despite the warnings, extreme care needed to be taken, even after the rain stopped.
"There will still be a lot of water on the roads and the key thing will be to take care and watch your speed."
Heavy, thundery rain is forecast for the rest of the day in the region but is expected to ease by evening.
The MetService has also issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Canterbury high country, central Otago, southern lakes, Clutha, Southland and Fiordland from this afternoon to 10pm.
Isolated thunderstorms were expected over inland parts this afternoon and in the early evening, with one or two possibly bringing "severe" localised downpours of 25mm to 40mm per hour.
Meanwhile, a family are trapped after trying to cross a Canterbury river.
The family with two young children are being helped by the Fire Service and police on Burnthill Rd, near Oxford.
They were trying to cross a ford this morning when they became stuck.
A police spokesman advised motorists to use common sense.
Weather-affected areas as at 11am include but are not isolated to:
SH25 Kuaotunu-Wharekaho Rd on the Whitianga side of Kuaotunu Hill
SH25 Whangapoua Hill
Tairua - surface flooding various locations
Whangamata - surface flooding various locations
Pauanui - surface flooding various locations
SH25 Matarangi - surface flooding between Matarangi and Coromandel
Opoutere - surface flooding
SH25 Tairua - Whitianga road near the intersection with Paul Rd, culvert washed
Cooks Beach - surface flooding
SH25 Pumpkin Hill
- The Dominion Post
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