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Published on : Friday, April 14, 2017
State of emergency have been declared in the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty, with landslips, flash flooding and downed power lines closing roads.
Some coastal communities have been evacuated and thousands of homes left without power.
The holidaymakers are fleeing the cities for Easter and clogging up highways. Traffic has backed up across Auckland and Wellington on Friday as people pour out of the city for Easter, with the threat of Cyclone Cook in the rearview mirror.
Many delayed their travel until Friday morning after warnings over the impact of the cyclone on the region’s roads.
Cyclone Cook killed one person when it swept through the Pacific islands of New Caledonia earlier this week.
The storm made landfall in the Bay of Plenty at about 18:30 local time (06:30 GMT) on Thursday, where it knocked out power to much of the town of Whakatane.
Air New Zealand cancelled flights out of Rotorua, Tauranga, Napier and Hamilton in the North Island, and Nelson and Blenheim in the South Island.
The New Zealand Met office said the storm was expected to pass over Wellington at about 03:00 local time on Friday, before reaching Kaikoura on the east of the South Island at 06:00.
Severe weather warnings for Auckland, Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty have now been lifted.