LATEST: Severe gales could hit parts of Canterbury on Christmas Eve, while heavy rain is forecast for much of the West Coast in the lead-up to Christmas.
Forecasters are predicting no one will escape the rain and showers on Christmas day as a wet-weather front moves north across the country.
But there's a silver lining to the approaching gloom. The front is now arriving earlier than expected - on Christmas Eve - meaning the South Island could escape the worst of the weather on Christmas afternoon.
MetService duty forecaster Frances Russell said the wet-weather front will make its way up the country on Christmas Eve, leaving showers in its wake.
A weather update issued this afternoon gave a signficant heavy rain warning for Fiordland, Westland and Buller districts, with some possible spill-over into the Otago and Canterbury headwaters.
The update also warned of a moderate risk of severe northwest gales for inland parts of Canterbury and Marlborough.
Christmas day barbecues in the South Island will be hit by showers, with rain expected in all the main centres, including Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson.
The wet weather is set to stay in Christchurch for a while after Christmas too, with rain and temperatures hovering around the 20C mark through to New Year's Eve.
It's certainly not looking as warm as last year throughout the country.
There were several record temperatures for Christmas day 2012, including 31.3C at Martinborough and 32.5C at Lauder in Central Otago. Christchurch's top Christmas day temperature in recent years was 27.6C in 2005.
Looking back at Christmas day over the past decade, an unlikely winner has taken the title of the hottest main centre. Wellington had the hottest Christmas day of the six main centres in the past 10 years, despite being known for its tumultuous weather.
The capital hit 28.6C last year, according to Niwa climate scientists.
Dunedin won the wettest main centre award, with at least 1mm of rain recorded on three of the 10 past Christmas days.
Top temperatures on Christmas Day over past 10 years
Auckland – 24.2C in 2009
Tauranga – 24C in 2008, 2009
Hamilton – 26.2C in 2012
Wellington – 28.6C in 2012
Christchurch – 27.6C in 2005
Dunedin – 28.1C in 2009 ----
- © Fairfax NZ News
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