Winter is here ''on a plate'' with hail, 120kmh winds and snow for the Wellington region.
MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said wind gusts on the Rimutaka Hill had reached 120kmh this morning.
In Kelburn gusts were up to 98kmh.
The northwesterly wind would ease this morning but rain would follow.
Tomorrow the wind would switch to the south, rising to 100kmh later on.
It could bring hail to Wellington and snow to the Tararua and Rimutaka ranges, he said.
Overnight temperatures could drop to 5degC in Wellington tonight and tomorrow night.
''It's winter on a plate, so to speak.''
The Wellington Harbour East by West Ferry is running reduced sailings this morning due to the weather.
The 7.45am and 8.35am Days Bay to Wellington ferries would run but the 8.05am and 9.10am services were cancelled.
On the Desert Road in the central North Island this evening, rain showers were expected to turn to snow showers, with up to 2cm accumulating by midnight.
NZ Transport Agency warned snow had fallen on State Highway 8 across the Lindis Pass in the South Island, warning drivers to be cautious.
High winds were also affecting State Highway 1 this morning between Blenheim and Kaikoura, with people in caravans, motorcycles and high-sided vehicles urged to take extra care.
MetService forecast squally thunderstorms and hail near the coast for Otago, Southland and Fiordland today, with snow developing to near sea level by the end of the day, continuing into tomorrow.
Around 10cm to 20cm of snow may accumulate above 300 metres in the 24 hours from noon today, with more than 20cm possible above 500 metres, MetService said.
With "very cold strong or gale southwest winds" forecast to spread over the South Island today, snow was expected on inland passes in Canterbury. Snow showers could lower to around 300 metres in the region by the end of the day.
"Wind chill is expected to be significant, especially in exposed places where strong or gale force winds are expected."
A maximum temperature of just 6C was expected in Invercargill today, along with sleet and hail showers, while Queenstown could be in line for occasional snow showers and a maximum of 5C.
Christchurch is expected to be harder hit tomorrow, with the temperature dropping to freezing early tomorrow and warming to no more than 7C during the day.
For tomorrow, MetService predicted Auckland would get squally thunderstorms, gale southwesterly winds and a maximum of 13C.
In the Far North, southwest gales tomorrow could be damaging and make travel hazardous.
- The Dominion Post
Does Wellington need a hotel/conference centre at $2m a year in ratepayers' costs?Related story: Five stars come at a price for ratepayers