A cold front was moving eastwards over the South Island this morning.
A strong and very moist northwest flow preceding the front was expected to bring heavy rain to the west of the South Island and the Southern Alps, with significant spillover into the headwaters of the Otago and Canterbury lakes and rivers.
A heavy-rain warning is in force for Fiordland and Westland, with 180 millimetres to 220mm expected, easing today.
A severe gale warning was also in force for Marlborough, Southland, Otago and Canterbury.
The east coast of the South Island will be battered by severe northwesterlies throughout the morning, gusting 120kmh in parts of Southland, Otago, and Canterbury, but they should begin to ease in the afternoon.
Thunderstorms are also a possibility for most of the South Island.
Winds of this strength have the potential to bring down trees and power lines, damage insecure structures and make driving hazardous, especially for motorcycles and high-sided vehicles, MetService said.
The rough weather will continue its march up the country towards the central North Island this evening.
It will be mainly fine for the northern parts of the North Island, although the winds may begin to strengthen in the evening.
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