A Te Awamutu family's calm night in front of the fire and TV changed in seconds when a mini tornado ripped through their yard, tearing out the chimney and uprooting a giant kowhai tree.
Daryl and Peter Ritsema were watching television with their adult children last night when the tornado struck.
"All of a sudden this horrendous noise, it sounded like a freight train coming through, and there was smoke and soot coming from the fire place and the lounge filled with smoke. I knew what was happening," Ms Ritsema said.
She acted quickly, ushering her children into the bathroom and opening the windows.
Then it all ended with a huge bang, she told Checkpoint with John Campbell.
Ms Ritsema changed out of her night-gown and was about to venture outside to inspect the damage when her neighbour approached the house.
"He said, 'do you realise what's just happened?'.
"Our chimney had actually collapsed down onto our roof and smashed the concrete tiles we have up there, and made a hole in the roof."
The tornado had arrived at and whipped through the Waikato property "in a matter of seconds".
Another neighbour's light-weight aluminium garden shed was lifted up, Ms Ritsema said.
"That got picked up and went over a house and into the next door back yard and landed there."
The property is insured and insurance inspectors visited today.
Tornadoes are relatively rare events in New Zealand, with about seven to 10 moderate to strong events occurring each year, according to NIWA.
They are usually 20m to 100m in diameter and travel for 2km to 5km, lasting just a few minutes.