- Publish Date
- Monday, 16 March 2015, 7:28AM
Extra care is being encouraged as people begin to move around this morning.
Cyclone Pam's damaging winds haven't made landfall, but Civil Defence authorities aren't convinced just yet, according to WeatherWatch.
Auckland controller Clive Manley says a single gust of wind can cause all sorts of damage.
"It's not over yet, although it's looking very fortunate the way we've experienced things so far."
In its latest update, MetService said cyclone Pam has now been re-classified as an 'intense extra tropical cyclone'.
However, it was still expected to bring heavy rain, strong winds and swells to north east areas of the North Island later today.
The cyclone was expected to maintain its intensity, or intensify slightly, as it moved south-southeast, MetService said.
As at midnight, the cyclone was situated about 450km to the northeast of Auckland and 450km to the north of East Cape.
MetService said the cyclone was expected to lie about 150km east of East Cape, or northern Gisborne, by midday today - before it would move away from the New Zealand coastline towards the Chatham Islands.
The cyclone had already brought 100mm of rain to parts of Gisborne overnight, and winds of between 140 to 150 km an hour to exposed parts of Auckland and Northland.
It's raining steadily in Gisborne, where Newstalk ZB's Laura Heathcote is keeping an eye on developments.
"It's not heavy, but it's definitely coming down in big, fat droplets. It's been going since about 2.30 this morning.
"The wind is starting to pick up a little bit."
Heathcote says coast dwellers - including motor camps and a school - are worried about storm surges.
"In some cases, there's not a lot of stop bank in front of it so many homeowners are concerned about storm surges coming later today and what impact that might have on their property."
Staff at Civil Defence agencies around the North Island have had a much quieter morning than expected.
Clive Manley says he's only aware of a single incident.
"A tree came down and blocked a road up Northland way, but that's the only incident we're aware of."
The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has activated the National Crisis Management Centre in response to the cyclone. The response was being managed by several of the regional Civil Defence emergency management groups along the North Island's east coast and the Chatham Islands.
On its website, it said "large and possibly damaging waves and strong winds" were being experienced on the east coast of the North Island, especially from Hawkes Bay to Cape Reinga, and on the Chatham Islands.
People were advised to stay off beaches and out of coastal waters. Local and regional Civil Defence authorities would be providing detailed information for those in areas expected to be worst hit by the storm.