After a fruitless two-week tornado hunt in the US earlier in the year, Josh Hickford could hardly believe it when he saw a huge twister in his own city.
The 29-year-old chartered accountant drove home from New Plymouth on Monday night when he saw a tornado tearing through the air.
"I still can not believe that this has just happened," he said.
Two tornadoes have hit homes on the North Island and have done great damage – one in New Plymouth and another in the Whakatane neighborhood.
* Tornado hits North Taranaki while region is hammered by thunderstorms, wind and tablespoon of hail
* Reports mini-tornado caused damage to property in the Tauranga suburb
* Mini-tornado tears through the shed, throwing the Matamata schoolboy in the air
Hickford said he had always been fascinated by extreme weather and had spent two weeks behind storms in America in May, but had never seen a tornado.
On Monday evening, when he drove home from his work along Vivian St, he could hardly believe he saw one in his hometown.
"I drove past and hail when I hit my car, I immediately thought that this was the best conditions for tornado, and then it was there for me," he said.
Sergeant Peter Lawn confirmed that a twister had cut the area about 17:30 hours and had damaged up to 30 houses.
"A lot of damage has been done to some houses," Lawn said.
A roof has been torn down and a tree uprooted near the crossroads of Belt Rd and St. Aubyn St.
At the intersection of St Aubyn St and Belt Rd a checkpoint for incidents has been set up, manned by police, firefighters and Sint-ambulance.
There had been no reports of injuries, Lawn said.
Mike Dowd, French St, said he knew immediately that it was a twister.
"It was an indescribable roar, it was unbelievable," said Dowd.
"I knew it immediately because I could just see the barn vibrate."
Dowd cars had smashed windscreens after being lifted, the top of a 12-foot palm tree had been lifted by slamming a concrete chimney as it flew through the air.
"The devastation of that short time was simply phenomenal."
He said that once the twister had passed, people from the neighborhood began to pitch and check each other to make sure everyone was okay.
Ella Symes was heartbroken to arrive and discovered that the twister had torn the roof of her deceased mother's house on Belt Rd.
"I received the call from my sister and in fact she told me that there was a tornado, so we immediately drove to this place," Symes said.
She arrived to close the street and had to walk past firefighters and rubble to get to the house.
"It was pretty heartbreaking, it's the roof all the way to the living room."
Symes said that the twister had also deposited a willow tree and damaged the garage and fence.
Belt Rd resident Ian Malloy said he had seen the tornado roar.
"There was just a bang and then a big rumble and it went on, the door flew open and started blowing everything around," he said.
Malloy said he had lost his fence, his trampoline was in a creek, and two trees had been blown down.
Jayne Moore said she was just at home in her house at the end of the Belt Rd coast when the twister struck.
"I just heard a lot of banging and creaking and thunder, I was not too worried at first, I was just surprised at how much rain had fallen," she said.
Her friend then told her that she had to hold the door because a tornado was coming and she was hanging on the rattling door the next minute.
Gary Burn, who lives on St Aubyn Street, said his house had been damaged in the short but violent tornado.
"I have not seen much, but I heard a big sound," he said.
Wooden barrels were impaled on his lawn and several windows were shattered. The roof of his neighbors had been torn off.
Lightning, thunder and heavy rain have struck the city since the middle of the afternoon.
There is electricity cut to parts of the city.
Tornado's are not a rare danger in New Plymouth.
In 2007, a Placemakers hardware store was severely damaged when a tornado appeared in the center of New Plymouth.
Four years later, tornado's New Plymouth city, Bell Block and Omata were hit in one day.
There have also been reports of a tornado that fell from Ohope near Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty just before eighteen, causing damage to six houses on Harbor Road.
A stuff reader saw the tornado in the sea for the first time when it was a water spout.
"I just looked up and I saw it and at first I thought that White Island had exploded because it had come out of that position and it seemed like it was going up."
When she saw it moving, she knew it was a huge water spout.
When it started to arrive at Ohope, I thought I should go to the basement to find cover. & # 39;
When she saw that it would not touch her, she grabbed her camera.
"It was just a great thing to see."
Five fire brigades have been called to cause damage to homes, including roofs that are torn off and windows that are being demolished.
There are no reports of injuries.