Super-cell storms and tornadoes have torn roofs from homes and destroyed crops, leaving a trail of destruction in southern Queensland.
Farmers in the middle of harvest season have lost their crops, and are now looking at huge financial losses.
Residents who endured the tempest are in shock, including mother Fiona Simpson whose body was battered by huge hail stones as she tried to shield her baby when they got caught in their car near Kingaroy.
Ms Simpson posted confronting images of her injuries on social media, her back, shoulders and arms a mess of angry welts and bruises.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the South Burnett region and other parts of the southeast copped the brunt of three severe storms, two of them super-cell storms, with two tornadoes also sighted.
At Blackwater, in central Queensland, winds gusted to 144km/h, a wind speed associated with a Category 2 cyclone.
The winds tore roofs off homes and businesses, and hail stones as large as tennis balls destroyed wheat, barley, melon and stone fruit crops, downed power lines, and cut roads.
Queensland Dairy Farmers president Brian Tessmann said the storm's fury at his Coolabunia farm was like nothing he'd ever seen, with winds tearing the roofs from his home and dairy.
"The roof came off and it was bedlam from there, trying to hold doors shut, and water coming through the ceiling, and things flying through the air. It was quite something," he told the ABC.
"I saw it leaving out the window as it went in a couple of large pieces."
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklinton said many farmers in her electorate of Nanango suffered enormous losses, having endured similarly devastating storms on Boxing Day last year.
"The human side of this is that people will lose their jobs today because there is no fruit left to pick," she told AAP.
"This was a huge storm. Many homes will be unliveable. For the farmers in particular, the people who've just got roofs back on after Boxing Day, this is just so sad."
Sandra Jaschke told the ABC there is extensive damage at her property, with the winds destroying a large carport, her laundry and a pump house, and an old abattoir on a property next door.
Teresa Francis said she lost fruit crops, with damage to her Kumbia orchard put at $2.1 million.
"It knocks you down. I've stopped crying but there's worse things that can happen. We are still all OK," she told the broadcaster.
About 9000 properties remain without power, down from 18,000 yesterday, with dozens of extra crews sent to the region to repair the damage.
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said farmers are facing a long period of recovery.
"The hail was simply intense when it fell. It was very very prolific. It simply shredded the ears of wheat and barley that was out there to be harvested," he told the ABC.
A cold southerly flow is hitting Canterbury and Marlborough with heavy snow warnings in place, with powerful winds set to hit Wellington, Wairarapa and Auckland today.
MetService says a trough of low pressure in moving east across central and northern New Zealand, spreading a strong cold southerly flow across the country.
Snow is expected to low levels over many parts of central and southern New Zealand, and severe gale southerlies for parts of central New Zealand.
In Marlborough, the snow is expected to accumulate above 500 metres, with lesser amounts down to about 300 metres. The snow is likely to ease gradually through the day.
Strong wind gusts are expected to arrive in Taranaki around 5:00pm and last until tomorrow afternoon.
While in the Kaikoura Coast, Marlborough Sounds and Wellington severe southerly gales are forecast until 11:00pm today.
Periods of rain and showers are expected in Auckland today and tomorrow. The winds are expected to turn strong southerly early tomorrow, then ease out in the evening, and gradually dye out on Sunday.
The wintry blast that brought snow to high country areas of the South Island overnight is set to sweep up the country with gales and heavy rain.
Snow fell in high country areas of Otago and Southland overnight, closing roads.
MetService says snow fell down to 200m in Southland.
State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford is closed from Hollyford Road because of snow and a rising avalance risk, and is likely to remain closed until midday.
MetService forecaster Heath Gullery said the cold weather system wasn't over yet.
Heavy rain warnings and watches are in place for north west Nelson, the ranges of Buller and the Richmond Range.
Mr Gullery said Up to 100mm of rain could fall in north-west Nelson.
Gales of more than 90 km/h are also expected for the Kaikoura coast and in Wellington.
Yesterday, temperatures dropped rapidly as the front moved up the South Island.
Snow has turned the Te Anau area into a winter wonderland as a cold blast sweeps through, making the spring school holidays seem more like the winter break.
The MetService forecast for Fiordland and Southland has come to pass, with heavy rain and snow to 200 metres.
1 NEWS video shows near whiteout conditions, with snow flakes close to the camera and the ground blanketed on a rural property in the Te Anau area.
The Lake Te Anau waterfront is also white, and a picnic table looks uninviting.
But a dog on the waterfront is undeterred from having a run.
The cold snap is not over yet, MetService saying another cold change is expected to sweep out of the Southern Ocean and onto the South Island tomorrow night.
Rain and snow will clear in the deep south during this evening, but return tomorrow night.
Canterbury and Otago are not immune with snow down to 500 metres and rain easing in Otago this evening.