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Weather chaos sweeps the country

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/05/2016

Tens of thousands of lightning strikes, what may have been a mini tornado and gale-force winds have kept fire crews busy overnight.

Meanwhile, what may be the end of a long summer has also brought smatterings of snow across some regions.

Several boats were torn from their moorings in Mount Maunganui's Pilot Bay after reports of a small tornado, senior firefighter Darren Jones said.

"We got a call that some boats were flying down at the Mount," he said.

He said a hull of a catamaran had been cracked open with a few dinghies thrown onto roads.

Meanwhile, powerlines were downed and trees brought down over roads by 120km/h winds around Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula, prompting 19 weather-related Fire Service callouts on Monday night.

There were reports of roofs being lifted and one trampoline being blown into a house in Lyttelton, but no major damage, a Fire Service spokesman said.

About 100 homes around Akaroa, Little River and Wainui were still without power on Tuesday morning, lines company Orion said.

The MetService said about 31,000 lightning strikes hit the country between midnight on Sunday and 6am on Tuesday.

In Auckland, which was also hit by strong winds and thunderstorms, the Fire Service received about 11 weather-related callouts with no major damage reported.

But the passing of the storm has also brought some good news for skiers.

A MetService spokesman said a smattering of snow that fell across the tops of mountains on both islands overnight was a sign of cooler times to come.

"The autumn trend of cooling temperatures and regular top-ups of snow at high levels is just what they need to start building up those ski fields," he said.

A few snow showers were looking likely for the week, with Canterbury possibly in for a decent fall on Friday, he said.

"What is important is we've had a lot of warm spells recently and we're not seeing any coming up for the next wee while."

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