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'Like a war zone': NZ extends state of emergency after cyclone



An Australian woman who just returned from New Zealand has described the "apocalyptic" scenes in parts of the North Island hit by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Stella Mountain, from Sydney, was in the Hawke's Bay region of the North Island helping her Kiwi boyfriend and his relatives recover from the disaster after the cyclone hit nearly three weeks ago.

Cyclone Gabrielle left at least 11 people dead across New Zealand and destroyed or damaged homes, businesses, farms and infrastructure, including kilometres of roads.

READ MORE: State warned of worst weather conditions since 2019

This week New Zealand extended the state of national emergency for a further seven days for the Tairāwhiti and Hawke's Bay areas.

Mountain filmed scenes of the damage as she drove in areas around the coastal city of Napier in Hawke's Bay.

Her footage showed upturned vehicles, wrecked homes and large trees uprooted.

"It felt like I was driving through a war zone, they were apocalyptic scenes," she told

Mountain said the region faces a long road to recovery and struck on the eve of the apple and grape harvest, a big blow for growers and wineries.

"The vineyards and orchards were covered in mud and had to be removed by hand," she said.

New Zealand authorities have launched a huge recovery operation over the past weeks aiming to rebuild vital infrastructure and restore essential services.

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A Defence Force Hercules lands at Hawke's Bay airport in Napier, bringing further supplies as personnel and volunteers continue work clearing debris from Cyclone Gabrielle across the region.

New Zealand's Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty said thousands of residents continue to be affected by the disaster.

"The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle continues to be deeply felt by many communities in the North Island," he said.

"In the the Tairāwhiti and Hawke's Bay regions, thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes due to flood damage."

The Cyclone Gabrielle disaster is the third national state of emergency after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and COVID-19 pandemic in 2020,

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