South set for warm start to winter

The South is set for an unseasonably warm spell to welcome the official start of winter this weekend. 

An end to the cold, wet, and windy conditions that have blighted much of autumn is on the horizon.

A ridge of high pressure is due on Thursday, tipping winds northwesterly and raising temperatures for the beginning of the King's Birthday long weekend.

Most places in the South Island are forecast to reach temperatures 4 to 6 degrees Celsius above their late May average.

Dunedin can expect 19degC and sunny conditions on Friday and Saturday, with similar weather in store from Invercargill through to Christchurch.

"It’s an ironic twist at the end of an especially cold autumn. Temperatures in the high teens or low twenties are forecast across the country on Friday and Saturday for the start of meteorological winter," MetService meteorologist Ngaire Wotherspoon said.

But it isn't all good news. 

MetService is forecasting strong winds, rain, and thunderstorms to affect parts of Aotearoa as a couple of weather systems move across the country later today and tomorrow. 

The incoming weather system will bring rain and a brief period of snow to elevated parts of the South Island early Wednesday morning.

Road snowfall warnings are in place for the summits of the Milford Road, Crown Range Road and Lindis Pass. 

A strong wind watch is in place for coastal parts of Clutha and Dunedin, south of Otago Peninsula, from 8am until 6pm tomorrow.