A wild winter punch is set to strike the country heading into the weekend.
MetService has issued a warning for a significant winter storm for most parts of New Zealand.
The North Island is forecast to be hit by strong winds and heavy rain from a low pressure system bringing the heaviest rainfall to the Bay of Plenty where 100mm of rain could accumulate in 12 hours.
A weather watch for that area has been upgraded to a full warning where northeast gusts could reach 120 km/h in some places.
MetService says thunderstorm outlooks in Northland could lead to small tornados off the coast but urge they aren't likely to cause any damage or harm.
Thunderstorms are expected to bring wind gusts of up to 90 to 100km/h as the system hits the country.
They warn people to be more cautious about the predicted strong winds and heavy rain in the area instead of the threat of a tornado.
Severe gale force winds are expected to hit the following areas:
- Northland on Thursday afternoon
- Auckland from Thursday afternoon to Thursday evening
- Coromandel Peninsula from late Thursday afternoon to late Thursday evening
- Bay of Plenty late Thursday
- Gisborne from early Thursday evening to early Friday morning
The ranges of Gisborne and near Nelson can also expect heavy volumes of rain.
The low pressure system is also forecast to bring heavy rain and snow to some parts of the South Island.
Snow is due to fall to low level areas over inland South Island, especially about the foothills and high country, on Friday and Saturday with heavy accumulations expected above 400m.
MetService says the snow could affect roads in the area and create issues for livestock.
Rainfall in Otago and Canterbury could also reach warning levels over Friday and Saturday where up to 160mm of rain could accumulate.
Overnight temperatures forecast for the South Island on Friday and Saturday night:
- Invercargill 5degC, -1degC
- Queenstown 2degC, -2degC
- Dunedin 6degC, 2degC
- Alexandra 3degC, -4degC
- Gore 4degC, -1degC
- Wanaka 2degC, -3degC
- Mt Cook 1degC, -3degC
- Oamaru 5degC, 0degC
- Timaru 4degC, -1degC
- Ashburton 4degC, -1degC
- Christchurch 6degC, -1degC
- Greymouth 5degC, 1degC
- Blenhiem 5degC, -1degC
Overnight temperatures forecast for the North Island on Friday and Saturday night:
- Wellington 8degC, 6degC
- Masterton 5degC, 4degC
- Palmerston North 8degC, 5degC
- Taumarunui 6degC, 2degC
- Tokoroa 6degC, 2degC
- Taupo 6degC, 3degC
- Napier 7degC, 6degC
- Gisborne 7degC, 7degC
- Whakatane 8degC, 4degC
- Hamilton 8degC, 3degC
- Auckland 10degC, 8degC
Authorities' have issued warnings ahead of the predicted weather, advising travellers using State Highways to be prepared for road warnings and closures.