A fierce front making its way up the country has left fallen power lines, smashed glass and other debris in its wake.
The gale force winds hit Invercargill early this morning, knocking down power lines and smashing a glass shop veranda.
Several cars collided with fallen trees.
18 school children had a lucky escape when the bus they were in was blown off the road near Ekatahuna, in the Tararua district of the North Island..
Southland Police Area Commander, Inspector Olaf Jensen, says things are back to normal in Southland, although snow was expected on Thursday night and that would bring its own challenges for commuters on Friday morning.
Shop owners had to clear glass from Invercargill's main street after the window at Hallensteins store in Dee Street blew out. Firefighters were called to secure shards of hanging glass.
Drivers were being urged to take extreme care, especially around Clinton in Southland where fallen power lines and debris are being blown across roads.
A car hit a fallen tree on State Highway 6 at Lorneville, near Invercargill, and police report a truck hit a cow on the Old Coach Road between Clinton and Mataura.
Worse weather was to come with winds of up to 150 kilometres an hour in parts of Southland, while further north, in Canterbury and Wairarapa, MetService is warning gusts could be in excess of 130 kilometres an hour.
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