Strong gusts of wind are starting to batter the East Coast as residents prepare for a stormy night.
MetService reported wind speeds at Hicks Bay, near the eastern most point of the North Island, had already reached 83km/h. Wind gusts strong enough to damage trees and powerlines are expected.
MetService said the weather was likely to deteriorate from about 4pm.
RNZ reporter Anusha Bradley was there this evening and said it was wet and miserable, and the expected rainfall was worrying the council.
She said it had issued a warning and provided sandbags for shops in the area.
They were also considering evacuation plans in case that was needed but had not made a specific decision about that yet, she said.
A heavy rain warning was in place for Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and the Kaikōura Ranges, with more than 200mm of rain expected in these areas.
Civil Defence said people could expect flooding, slips and possible power cuts.
People were evacuated from their homes and three had to be airlifted from their roof.