In the path of a tornado: ‘A real whirlwind‘

A resident of National Park Village who spent the night in emergency accommodation has described yesterday‘s storm as horrendous.

National Park Village resident Mike Smith and his wife Cindy spent the night in accommodation provided by Civil Defence. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Fourteen properties in the central North Island town have now been deemed uninhabitable, and access to them has been restricted.

National Park Village resident Mike Smith has lived in the small central North Island settlement of National Park for 53 years and said he had never experienced a tornado in the town before.

Mr Smith said his house had a smashed chimney and a number of windows had blown out.

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“There was a heap of wind, a real whirlwind.”

Mr Smith and his wife Cindy spent the night in accommodation provided by Civil Defence and he said he expected a second night there too.

He described the storm yesterday as “horrendous”.

One of the houses inside the cordon in National Park village that lost their roofs. Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

The house next door fared worse and was destroyed, he said.

Today, he will be able to visit his property, supervised by Civil Defence to have a look around and to grab any person possessions including clothes.

‘Massive amounts of debris‘ – Aucklanders flee wild winds

Meanwhile, some Aucklanders fled their homes last night as winds equivalent to a cyclone toppled trees and flung debris through the air.

A tree at One Tree Hill that was brought down by the storm. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

The city was with winds gusting up to 150km/h.

In Auckland, Mangere had gusts of more than 100km/h for three consecutive hours between 8pm and 11pm, which Niwa said was a magnitude typical of a category 1 cyclone intensity.

MetService said one gust was observed at 213km/h.

Trees were toppled across the city and more than 100,000 homes lost power.

In Glen Eden, a trampoline flew from a backyard to eventually land on a fence across the road.

Nancy Holland and her husband fled their Titirangi home, scared that surrounding kauri trees would fall on them.

They stepped out into a wild night.

“Lots of lightning far off in the distance. Debris, I could hear it on the roof just falling, things just falling, so we just went ‘oh, we‘ll leave‘.

“Yeah, a huge amount of debris and power lines down near where we are and massive amounts of debris all across the road.”

A tree downed in Titirangi by the storm overnight. Photo: Twitter /

A west Auckland woman whose neighbour‘s trampoline ended up in front of her house said the winds last night were terrifying.

Sereima Vakasoqo says after the power at her home went out at 9pm, she and her husband saw a large round object rolling around the front gate.

After investigating further they realised it was a trampoline from her neighbour‘s backyard.

“They looked at the trampoline rolling around their house, and after a while when another strong with came it just blew out of their gate, came across the road.

“All the cars were waiting, just, it was so terrifying to hear that storm.”

Nathan Palairet had a hair-raising ride across the harbour bridge on his motorbike.

“You‘re riding along at about 30km an hour, with your hazards on, in the slow lane, getting blown from one side to the other, crossing over the line.

“It was terrifying. The cars were going about 50km an hour and I was like ‘nah, I‘m going slower than that, I can‘t, I don‘t feel safe‘.”

Auckland Airport suspended flights last night as debris was blown across the runway.

This passenger was bound for Auckland but her plane had to turn back to Napier.

“I was horrified, it was scary,” she said.

“The man next door to me was very calm … helped keep me calm so that was good, because I stopped breathing.”

Auckland Airport said its main runway had been reopened this morning.