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Timaru has reached a record-breaking 30.6C today. It's the highest April temperature since records began in the city in 1962, according to Metservice. It's warmer than Rarotonga's 29 degree-high, and it could climb higher by the end of the day.
"It's quite warm also at Banks Peninsula at around 28.4 degrees, 27.8 degrees at Dunedin city and even Omaru was 26.9," said Metservice meteorologist Andy Best.
Parts of the North Island have also been graced with warm weather.
Napier city is at 26.5 and Hastings is 25.1, so it's definitely a nice warm day in eastern places but the negative aspect is the very strong gusty northwesterly winds," Best said.
A strong wind warning is in place for Southland, North Otago, Dunedin and the Canterbury high country.
Severe gales are gusting up to 130kmh in exposed places in the Canterbury high country.
The gusts are hindering crews battling fires in Southland and Fairlie, but are forecast to ease for a time this evening.
Gales reaching 120kmh are expected in exposed places in Wairarapa north of Masterton.
Strong wind gusts could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures, Metservice said.
"Especially if you're driving, particularly motorcycles and high-sided vehicles, take heed of weather warnings," Best said.
"A lot of people are coming back [home] today. Certainly don't drive at speed at all because those winds will have an added effect."