New Zealanders brace for 2nd major storm in just over a week

Loading A satellite image shows Cyclone Cook over the Western Pacific at 4pm yesterday

Hundreds of people in New Zealand have been evacuated from some coastal areas as the second major storm in just over a week made landfall near the North Island town of Whakatane.

Cyclone Cook killed one person when it swept through the Pacific islands of New Caledonia earlier this week. "People should be prepared to change their travel plans if necessary as driving could become hazardous during the severe weather period", Dyason warned.

The storm - expected to bring torrential rain and winds gusting at up to 150km/h (93mph) - has been classified as an extra-tropical cyclone.

'I have never seen an event like this in the 12 years I have been a forecaster in New Zealand. this is not an event to be taken lightly, ' MetService forecaster Lisa Murray said on Wednesday.

It is targeting the Bay of Plenty region of the country's North Island, near the capital of Auckland, a flood-stricken area affected by last week's Cyclone Debbie.

The path of the storm included the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty regions.

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Meanwhile, thousands of homes remain without power across the Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Wanganui after the cyclone ripped down the island.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said it was considering closing the Auckland Harbour Bridge, a major thoroughfare in the country's largest city.

On top of that, Cyclone Cook is expected to cross from the Coromandel Peninsula to Wellington during Thursday, brining downpours and severe gales.

More than 1000 homes have lost power across the Bay of Plenty, according to Powerco, with Whakatane District Council reporting multiple trees blown over. National airline Air New Zealand warned of "significant disruption" from the weather with many flights likely to be delayed or cancelled.

The worst of the weather was expected to hit Thursday afternoon through Friday night.

Despite the weather event, packhouse operators are gearing up for a busy weekend, with growers eager to get mature fruit off their vines.

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