While Dunedin shivered in temperatures which barely reached 12degC yesterday, today should be much warmer, MetService says.
An active front barrelling up the South Island "like a freight train" is leaving cool Antarctic air in its wake and threatening the eastern side of the country with 100kmh winds.
Niwa figures confirm what Otago holiday-makers suspected - this Christmas-New Year period was colder and wetter than average.
A "massive" high-pressure system will bring up to 10 days of settled summer weather in New Zealand - but Kiwis will have to wait another week for heat to roll over from baking-hot Australia, where temperatures have nudged 50°C.
Holidaymakers in Otago are being told to expect ''spring-like'' conditions to continue after wind gusts and rain battered parts of the region overnight.
Mist has been a frequent companion of those living on Dunedin's hills for more than a week, but the MetService says the air is about to clear, despite the rain being forecast to continue.
A weekend of great weather will kick off the summer holidays for many ahead of changeable weather forecast for Christmas Day.
A flash storm that dropped hail stones the size of golf balls caught residents near Ashburton off guard last night.
Big thunderstorms are hitting parts of the North Island this afternoon and bringing a chance of flooding and hail, Metservice warns.
Wild winds which lashed the country yesterday causing flight delays and injuring bystanders have since tapered off.
Santa is expected to gift sunny skies to much of New Zealand on Christmas Day but wise men will keep a brolly close at hand.
Spring's ''wild ride'' is expected to continue on the weekend, with snow on the hills, blustery winds and cool temperatures, MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett says.
Typical spring westerly winds are expected to continue in coming weeks, with the odd spell of rain, MetService's seasonal forecast says.
A cold front moving towards the country is bringing a risk of thunderstorms for the upper North Island this afternoon.
Rainy weather dampening the start of the school holidays could be gone by the middle of the week for most areas, but parts of the South Island are in line for a drenching.