Severe weather warning for West Coast

Winter is well and truly here with heavy rain and gales set to hit large parts of the country today and heavy snow forecast for skifields later in the week.

The West Coast was the first to be hit by a front overnight, with Westport receiving 35 millimetres of rain between midnight and 6am, MetService said.

A severe weather warning for heavy rain has been issued for northern Fiordland and Westland, as well as parts of the North Island.

Christchurch is in for a fine start to the week but it all changes on Wednesday when a southerly front will bring rain, hail and snow down to 400 metres. 

Today's heaviest falls are likely to occur about the ranges of northern Fiordland and southern Westland, where 70 to 90mm of rain is forecast to fall tonight and Monday morning.

The MetService was warning people, especially trampers, to be careful because rivers and streams could rise rapidly and slips were possible in vulnerable areas.

Heavy snow was expected to fall from Wednesday to Friday, down to 300m in Southland and Queenstown and 400m through the South Alps, Canterbury and Otago.

This will be welcome news to those wanting to take to the snow, as a warmer-than-normal winter had made so far for small snow bases and delayed the opening of some skifields.

Dunedin's weather starts deteriorating tomorrow with showers and winds expected in the afternoon but come Wednesday, the southwest front will see hail and strong southwesterly winds continue into the weekend. 

Nelson looks better than most with a few showers and mild temperatures while Queenstown sees a temperature drop and sleety showers.

The Press