The drought gripping the North Island will not be lifted until May at the earliest, despite solid downpours forecast for next week.
A subtropical rainmaker, which meteorologists are describing as the biggest low of the year, is expected to land over the country from Monday bringing upwards of 20 millimetres of rain to parched pastures in Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa.
Urban Wellington, where an outdoor water use ban was lifted this week, can also expect wet days.
Drought is still officially declared across the North Island and north of the West Coast.
After several patchy offerings in the past week the incoming low looks set to provide the most widespread rain of the year.
WeatherWatch analyst Richard Green said the system had the potential to be the wettest so far for 2013. "But . . . if it rolls on through quickly it may not pack the same sort of punch as if it was to stay here for a couple of days."
The drought was still getting worse in some regions including Wairarapa and Wellington, where scattered rain over the past month had made little difference.
Niwa climate scientist Andrew Tait said that though the forecast rain would certainly provide "solid relief", another extended dry spell would quickly reverse any moisture gains.
Consistent rain every few days would be required to set up for winter.
Showers and southerlies are forecast this weekend but should clear by tomorrow ahead of the incoming low, which should hit overnight Monday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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