Severe thunderstorm watches for North Island as heavy rain slams Auckland

MetService is warning people in the upper North Island to check weather forecasts after severe thunderstorm watches were issued.

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Trees can be seen swaying heavily in the wind amid the onslaught. Source: Supplied

Very heavy rain was seen in Auckland around noon, while NIWA reported that the clouds were also bringing lightning strikes in some areas.

Red-level severe thunderstorm watches are in place in Northland as far south as Whangarei, while yellow-level watches have been put in place in Auckland, the Coromandel and the west coast beaches as far south as Raglan.

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It’s expected to cover much of the North Island by later this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

The watches are currently in place until 6am Friday morning and it's warned that the storms could bring wind gusts up to 100km/h, small tornadoes, and heavy rain of 10-20 millimetres per hour.

The New Zealand Transport Agency is advising motorists to "slow down, keep your lights on and maintain a safe following distance".

Charlotte Bishop, who lives in Massey, West Auckland, had a very large tree toppled by high winds just after noon.

A large tree which was brought down by strong winds in Massey, West Auckland. Source: Charlotte Bishop

"My husband witnessed it come down," Ms Bishop said.

"He was about to go out in the car but decided to wait for the weather to pass - good thing too, as he could have easily been waiting in the driveway where the tree landed.

"Very lucky it didn't take out cars on the road too."

Maps issued by MetService showing which watch areas for severe thunderstorms. Source: MetService

For a full forecast for your region, see our weather section here.