Wild weather continues to batter the country

The year's first real "winter storm" has abated but will continue to batter the country with heavy rain, sleety showers and more thunderstorms.

North Island

MetService lead forecaster Michael Martens said the deep low that brought wind gusts of up to 213kmh to Auckland has moved on to Waikato and the Bay of Plenty this morning.

"It has weakened a bit, but there are still gale-force winds and showers that might get quite heavy."

Showers, hail and thunderstorms accompanied by cold southerlies gusting up to 110kmh are on the cards for the day through central and northern New Zealand, although they will gradually ease through the day.

There is a moderate risk of thunderstorms about northern Canterbury, the Kaikoura Coast, Wellington, southern Taranaki, Whanganui, Wairarapa, coastal Hawke's Bay and southern Gisborne.

During the afternoon the low risk of thunderstorms in Northland and Auckland increases to moderate north of Auckland City.

A heavy rain warning is in force for Taranaki and Whanganui to 8pm, where up to 100mm and isolated thunderstorms are forecast.

It was the coldest morning for Auckland this year, dropping to 9C.

The rest of the North Island is down to between 3C to 8C, except Gisborne, where the cold air has not quite reached, which is sitting around 11C.

Wellington and Taupo will be among the coldest of the North Island today, as they are forecast to reach highs of just 10C.

Higher areas are frosty and snow has fallen over the Central Plateau.

State Highway 1's Desert Rd from Rangipo to Waiouru has closed in snow and ice. The NZ Transport Agency has a detour in place.

South Island

Metservice have issued road snow warnings for some alpine roads in the South Island.

Lewis Pass was expected to have persistent snow showers until this afternoon and easing to just a few flurries in the evening.

Arthurs Pass was predicted to have a few snow flurries that may return for a time this morning, but little if any snow is expected to accumulate. 

Showers would be also move onto the South Island, which is in for another cold day.

"Generally temperatures in the South Island are between 1C to 6C this morning," Martens said.

The best places appear to be Nelson on 15C and Greymouth on 14C, where fine weather forecast.

Some higher and more central areas were in the negatives overnight and more snow fell.

"There was probably not as much snow as on Monday night, but there are snow showers across the island as we speak."

Some areas around the Canterbury High Country and Kaikoura Ranges were forecast to receive over 40cm of snow.

Martens said lahtough it was unseasonably cold, it would be much colder if not for the unusually warm seas.

"If not for the warm seas, we would see snow to sea level in the South Island."

There will be no respite tomorrow though, as a new system arrives in the South Island from the west.

The fast-moving front should cross most of New Zealand tomorrow, bringing a burst of heavy rain to western areas of the South Island, and strong southwesterlies to many parts of the country.

Over Fiordland and southern parts of Southland and Clutha has the low risk of rainfall reaching warning levels tomorrow and early Friday, and a moderate risk that southwesterlies gales may become severe for a time.

"It will spread more rain across the country, with potentially heavy falls and there may be snow to 800m above sea level," Martens said.

The rain will spread onto the North Island from tomorrow afternoon, bringing strong southwesterlies.

Looking ahead to the weekend there may be some brief periods of respite, before another front arrives late Friday and into Saturday.

The southwesterlies are forecast to ease on Friday as a ridge approaches New Zealand from the west, which then crosses the country during Saturday and Sunday.

Northeasterlies spread over the country on Sunday, and rain may develop about the South Island's West Coast. Rainfall accumulations may reach warning amounts about Fiordland and Westland on Sunday.

FORECAST

Dunedin - Showers clearing and strong cold southerly easing evening - High of 11degC

Christchurch - Showers, some heavy, chance thunder and hail. Strong cold southwesterly, easing evening - High of 11degC

Wellington - Showers, some heavy with hail, and possible thunderstorms. Strong or gale cold southerlies - High of 10degC

Hamilton - Showers, possibly heavy with hail, easing this morning and fine spells increasing. Cold southwesterlies - High of 13degC

Tauranga - Showers, possible heavy with hail from afternoon. Cold winds turn southerly - High of 16degC

Auckland - Showers, some heavy with hail, becoming isolated afternoon. Cold southwesterlies, strong and gusty at times - High of 14degC

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