Cyclone Gita hits central New Zealand - Roofs off, emergencies declared, trees down, power out

Updated 8:55pm --- Cyclone Gita has hit central New Zealand knocking out power to tens of thousands of people, causing several states of emergency and closing highways due to slips, flooding and trees down.

There are widespread powercuts across Taranaki with trees down across a number of roads. has also had reports of windows blown in across Taranaki and Manawatu.

According to the the Meteorological Service of New Zealand Hawera has had wind gusts of 130km/h, Westport 118km/h while the Kaikoura Ranges have had over 255mm.

Around 150mm has been recorded in parts of the upper South Island too.

After landfall Gita will split into two centres - one on the western side of the South Island, the other to the east of the South Island. This will develop over the next several hours ahead.

The eastern low may deepen further - bringing severe gales to Banks Peninsula and up to Kaikoura in coastal areas and more rain to Canterbury.

Rain will continue over the South Island across Wednesday.