Other residents had reported that the whole town was out of power.

Air New Zealand cancelled all flights in and out of Wellington and four other centres as Cyclone Gita began unleashing heavy winds and rain.

Gusts of more than 150km/h were recorded at the Rimutaka Summit and 118km/h at Wellington Airport.

The downpour also led to record rainfalls, particularly in Kaikoura, where 194.4mm had fallen by about 7.40pm — four times more than the monthly normal, according to Niwa.

MetService expected the centre of the storm would pass over the upper South Island overnight with the worst of the weather fading by week's end.