Destructive winds rattle New Zealand

·1-min read

Cyclone-level winds are battering New Zealand, forcing power outages and road closures.

The country's most beautiful highway - Milford Road - has closed due to elevated avalanche risk from a front that has brought destructive rain, snow and wind.

The National Institute of Water and Atmosphere, NIWA, has charted record gusts on both North and South Islands.

Winds in Akitio, a beachside town on the lower east coast of North Island, reached 190kmph on Friday.

At 150kmph in Waipara and 130kmph in Lake Tekapo, north and south of Christchurch, also set new wind gust records.

"One of the really impressive things about this current system is how widespread it has been," MetService meteorologist Lewis Ferris told AAP.

"There's a really big pressure gradient over the country. It's stretching through the entirety of South island and up to the North.

"Trucks have tipped in Dunedin, and they've tipped in the Wairarapa and Marlborough too."

More than 1000 homes around Christchurch were left without power on Thursday night.

Severe wind warnings remain in place for several regions through to the early hours of Saturday.

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