Strong winds are beginning to buffet the lower half of the North Island as torrential rain starts falling in the South Island.
A rare “red warning” has been issued for parts of the West Coast, with residents told to brace for heavy rain, flooding, slips and possible thunderstorms.
MetService has also issued a spate of weather warnings for other parts of the country – from 140km/h gales in Wellington to heavy rain in Taranaki.
Motorists are being warned the wind has already picked up on the Remutaka Hill Rd and the Desert Rd, with those in high-sided vehicles or on motorcycles told to take extra care.
The country’s weather authority issued its third-ever red warning this afternoon for Buller and Westland, north of Fox Glacier, from 9pm last night to 6am on Saturday.
The red warning – reserved only for the most impactful weather events – was issued in consultation with Civil Defence and regional authorities.
The rain is expected to be intense and heavy – with up to 380mm in the hills and 200mm around the coast with a peak rate of up to 30mm per hour.
Flooding was likely while slips could close roads, disrupting transport routes and isolating communities, MetService said.
The red warning was prompted by an active front moving across southern and central New Zealand and preceded by heavy rain for western areas.
MetService meteorologist Andy Best said the warning was issued due to the amount and intensity of the rain.
“It is of particular concern for people who are on the roads,” he said, urging anyone going away for the school holidays to check the weather conditions before venturing out.
This morning winds across the lower North Island were starting to ramp up with severe northwest gales reaching up to 140km/h expected to batter the capital and 120km/h in southern Wairarapa from this afternoon.
Taranaki would also be hit by powerful gales from tonight.
MetService says the gales are expected to be damaging, bringing down trees and powerlines and sending unsecured structures airborne.
Heavy rainfall warnings were in place for the headwaters of the Canterbury lakes and rivers from the Rakaia river northwards, and between Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Rakaia River, Nelson, west of Motueka, and the western ranges of Marlborough.
Those driving on SH6 Haast Pass, Sh73 Porters Pass and SH60 Takaka Hill were urged to take extra care.
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