Cyclone Cook has been forecast as one of New Zealand's biggest storms in decades, with 16-foot waves and winds of up to 93mph.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated as the second major storm in a week batters New Zealand’s North Island.
Cyclone Cook downed power lines and caused flash floods and landslips after making landfall in the Bay of Plenty at 6.30pm local time (5.30am GMT), in what has been forecast as one of the biggest storms to hit New Zealand since 1968.
The tropical storm is expected to bring 16-ft waves and winds of up to 93mph, as well as rainfall of more than 100mm (4 inches) in some places.
More than 250 homes in coastal town Ohope have been evacuated, while the military has placed 500 troops on standby.
A Red Cross spokesperson said many people who had been evacuated described "near misses with uprooted trees and other debris" as they made their way to a welfare centre.
The storm comes just a week after Cyclone Debbie hit New Zealand's North Island - forcing 2,000 people to evacuate as the town of Edgecumbe, Bay of Plenty, was flooded.
Severe weather warnings are in place for much of the country and Sarah Stuart-Black, director of the Ministry of Civil Defence, said the latest tropical storm was "extremely serious".
She said: "We are watching very carefully, we're not through this yet."
The storm was expected to move south overnight on Thursday, reaching the capital, Wellington, on Friday morning.
It was initially expected to hit Auckland, but passed the country's biggest city to the east.
Flights across the country have been delayed or cancelled, while Air New Zealand has suspended all its flights from Tauranga Airport in the Bay of Plenty.
Meanwhile, authorities advised homeowners on the Coromandel Peninsula to evacuate to higher ground, as large waves were expected to batter the coast.
Earlier this week, Cyclone Cook killed one person when it swept through the Pacific islands of New Caledonia.
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