A cold snap could bring snow to parts of the South and rain
to the already sodden top half of the country, forecasters
But the chilly weather was good news for skiers, as low
pressure systems were expected to bring a dump of snow to the
South Island, MetService said.
A severe weather watch was in place for the ranges near
Gisborne and Hawkes Bay north of Wairoa, meteorologist Liz
"There's snow to 800m, which is quite low for the North
Island but it's unlikely to affect any roads, basically
because there's none through there.''
The worst of the weather would strike at the weekend, she
The country would be sandwiched between two areas of low
pressure to the east and west, which were set to come
"The low pressure up north is going to cross over the upper
North Island over Saturday and Sunday, so we're expecting
heavy rain for Auckland and the Coromandel on Saturday and
western parts of the Bay of Plenty and the Kaimai [Ranges]
and Gisborne on Sunday,'' Ms Walsh said.
Meanwhile a severe weather watch had been issued for
"We do think the heavier rain will fall further south, but
any rainfall in Northland will doubtless affect conditions up
there, so we're very wary of what we're forecasting there and
keeping a close eye on it.''
Weatherwatch.co.nz weather analyst Philip Duncan said latest
data suggested the rain band in Northland could be "fairly
"We'd be concerned with any dramatic torrential downpours or
hours of moderate rainfall - at the moment neither of those
are looking too likely.''
Ms Walsh said further south, Canterbury would be the first to
feel the southerlies and showers tomorrow, which would move
up the country and reach the North Island on Sunday.
"There could even be snow down to 400m in the Canterbury
Snow was predicted to reach lower levels on Sunday at
Dunedin, Southland and Clutha.
"We're heading into the coldest time of the year,'' Ms Walsh
Northland Civil Defence said the severe weather watch issued
for the area over the weekend reflected a "sensible, cautious
approach'' and was no cause for alarm at this stage.
"Forecasters will continue to monitor the situation, and
their advice - which we agree with - is that people should
keep up to date with the latest forecasts as they come to
hand in case the watch is upgraded to a full warning,'' Civil
Defence spokesman Tony Phipps said.
Local officials, including hydrologists and other experts,
were also monitoring the forecast progress carefully.
Northland's post-storm recovery efforts, now into a sixth
day, continued to progress well, he said.
The reopening of a crucial section of State Highway 1
affected by a huge slip south of Kawakawa was expected late
tomorrow or early Saturday.
New Zealand Transport Agency said getting SH1 partially
opened depended on the good weather holding.
"But our contractors are making great progress constructing a
detour past the underslip that forced us to close the
highway,'' regional journey manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult said.
- by Rebecca Quilliam