Wild weather strikes as heavy rain, wind gusts hit upper North Island

Upper North Island fire crews were getting called out an average of once every nine minutes to help fix the mess from toppled trees as wild weather struck on Wednesday night.

MetService issued heavy rain warnings for Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island for Wednesday and Thursday.

MetService Forecaster Sonja Farmer​ said 51mm of rain fell in Kerikeri in four hours. That’s about one-quarter of the total average rainfall the area gets in all of July.

At one northern Bay of Islands location, 23mm fell in just one hour. And to the southwest, Kaikohe received a 30mm dumping between roughly 3pm and 7pm.

* Heavy rain to lash upper North Island on Wednesday, with flooding on the cards
* NZ’s tornado activity: A look at what’s causing our significant thunderstorms

Craig Dally​ of Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ)​said firefighters were called out 16 times from 6.30 to 8.40pm to weather-related events, all involving trees down.

Dally, the FENZ Northern Communications​ shift manager​, said a car hit a fallen tree on Mangakahia Rd in Kaikohe, Northland, just before 6.30pm.

A toppled tree was also reported on Inland Rd in Helensville, west Auckland about the same time.

Farmer said 128kmh winds were recorded at Tutukaka Harbour, northeast of Whangārei.

Is it flooding where you are? Send your pictures and video to newstips@stuff.co.nz

Lines company Vector said it had crews on standby as strong winds were expected to lash Auckland on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris​ said heavy rain would drift south on Thursday and Friday.

“Northland and Coromandel Peninsula are the two warning areas but there’re regions under watch stretching into northern Gisborne,” Ferris said.

Significant amounts of rain have hit Northland (file photo).

Rosa Woods/Stuff

Significant amounts of rain have hit Northland (file photo).

The Bay of Plenty and Kaimai Ranges were also expected to take a hit from heavy rain and gale force easterly winds on late Wednesday, and even until Friday morning.

WeatherWatch said a major low pressure system in the Tasman Sea was drifting towards northern New Zealand and would take a while to lose power.

“A burst of heavy rain and gales are expected tonight and into Thursday for some regions,” WeatherWatch forecasters added.

In the Coromandel Peninsula, locals could expect heavy rain from Wednesday evening and gale-force easterlies possibly reaching 100km/h.

Thames-Coromandel District Council civil controller Garry Towler​ said catchments were still saturated from the storm two weeks ago.

He said surface flooding, slips, road closures and possible power outages were expected in days ahead.