- By Nicholas Yong and Kathryn Armstrong
- BBC News
About 58,000 homes lost power as Cyclone Gabrielle hit northern New Zealand.
Authorities have warned of heavy rain and wind, and hundreds of flights have been cancelled.
Some areas have declared a state of emergency as Gabrielle approaches the North Island.
It comes weeks after record rainfall hit Auckland and the surrounding area, triggering flooding and killing four people.
Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty told a news conference on Monday that the government was considering declaring a national emergency for the third time in the country’s history.
A state of emergency has already been declared in five northern regions, including Auckland. The statement gives local authorities more powers to respond to dangerous situations and allows them to limit travel and provide assistance.
The Metservice weather agency said Whangarei, a town north of Auckland, had received 100.5mm (4 inches) of rain in the past 12 hours.
Mr McAnulty added that Monday would be a “critical day” due to the “very dangerous” combination of high winds and heavy rain. Winds of up to 140 km/h (87 mph) swept across the Northland region, while 110 km/h gusts rocked the Auckland Harbor Bridge.
He warned it could take days to restore the power grid as bad weather made work on the grid “unsafe”.
Though the cyclone is yet to make landfall, it has already uprooted trees, damaged roads and destroyed power lines.
Many schools and local government bodies in Auckland and the North Island have closed and people are being asked not to travel if possible.
Meanwhile, around 10,000 international Air New Zealand customers have been disrupted by the cancellation of 509 flights. Normal service is expected to resume on Tuesday, with the national carrier adding 11 additional domestic flights to its schedule to help with recovery efforts.
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was reportedly stuck in Auckland amid the flight cancellations, prompting an online cabinet meeting.
Mr Hipkins had previously asked people to take the severe weather warnings seriously and ensure they are prepared.
Authorities said the two major events stretched the emergency and recovery response system.