Cyclone still tracking towards New Zealand

Last updated 13:32 17/01/2011

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Cyclone Zelia has picked up speed as it heads toward New Zealand and is threatening severe weather across the North Island tomorrow night.

Metservice say Zelia's track is uncertain at the moment but warn of a period of heavy rain and north to northwest gales over much of northern and central New Zealand developing tomorrow and lasting into Wednesday morning.

Cyclone Vania, which petered out on the weekend, is now an ex-tropical low and is expected to move across the northern South Island tomorrow.

Zelia was south of New Caledonia at 11am and accelerating.

"Although the exact track is not certain it will probably pass west of Northland and Auckland tomorrow afternoon and evening, move over the southern or central North Island on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, and pass west of Chatham Islands late on Wednesday," the warning says.

"It will not be a tropical cyclone by the time it reaches New Zealand but these lows are forecast to bring very humid conditions and a period of heavy rain and north to northwest gales..."

The heaviest rain falls of 200 to 250mm are expected near the ranges of Westland, Buller and Nelson north of about Franz Josef Glacier.

The strongest winds will depend mainly on the track of the second low.

"At this stage they are likely to be from Taranaki and Taumarunui to Taihape and inland Wanganui with gusts around 130 km/h in exposed places on Tuesday night."

Severe gales could also hit exposed North Island areas.

Coastal gale warnings have been posted for the sea areas Abel, Brett, Chatham Islands, Colville, Conway, Cook, Grey, Kaipara, Plenty, Portland, Puysegur, Raglan and Stephens.

The gale warning for Manukau and Waitemata harbours and the Hauraki Gulf warns of northeast rising to 25 knots, gusting to 35 knots Tuesday morning and 35 knots gusting 45 knots tomorrow night.

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