Vicious winds have pummeled Central Otago and Canterbury today, causing property damage, fires, downed power lines, and a small tornado in the township of Clyde.
Numerous emergency calls about roofs being lifted off homes and garages, and windows being smashed, were reported in Clyde by a Fire New Zealand spokesperson.
One Clyde resident Colleen Kitto described a small tornado whipping through her backyard, likening the feeling to an earthquake, the Otago Daily Times reported.
Winds over 100 km/h were reported in Alexandra in the early hours of today by Metservice.
Police are warning motorists in Central Otago and Canterbury to take special care in the blustery conditions.
A large boulder slip has caused The Crown Range Road in Otago to be closed on both sides.
There are also reports of damage to homes in Clyde, with roofs coming off two houses.
Strong winds are affecting roads in the Tekapo and Twizel areas and police are warning drivers to take extra care or to delay travel if possible.