Heavy rain and wind on way for South Island

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for much of New Zealand, with heavy rain set to hammer the West Coast, Canterbury and Nelson.

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Rain was expected to start early this morning in the West Coast, Nelson ranges and Mt Taranaki as an active front moved across the lower South Island on its way north. It was expected to stick around until early tomorrow.

Heavy rain was also expected to spill into the Canterbury headwaters, while gusts of 120kmh were forecast for Wellington.

MetService warned there could be thunder, rapid rising streams and rivers, flooding and slips as the front moved through.

It was expected to hit Wellington this afternoon, when northerly gales could hit 120kmh with potential to damage trees and powerlines and make driving difficult.

Gales were also expected in Wairarapa, Marlborough and parts of Canterbury, lasting till tomorrow morning.

MetService forecaster Dan Corbett said while the weather was bad news for outdoor plans, another cold southerly front coming later in the week could be good news for skiers.

Snow was expected for the South Island ski fields later this week and heading towards the weekend. Snow could also reach higher slopes on Ruapehu in the central North Island.

It would, however, make for a cold weekend. Queenstown in central Otago would drop to freezing levels on Saturday and the weekend's high would only be 10C.

Similar cold weather was in store for the main centres, with Dunedin not expected to get over 11C this weekend, Christchurch and Wellington would peak at 13C, and Auckland would be comparatively warm with a 16C high this weekend.

Fairfax Media