Gales and heavy rain warnings
With the shortest day underway, conditions are worsening in parts of the country with a wet end to the week on the way for all.
Heavy rain warnings for southern Westland, the Bay of Plenty, and northern Gisborne were issued just after 8pm on Wednesday.
Up to 110mm of rain is expected to fall in those areas throughout Wednesday night and during Thursday morning.
Gale force winds up to 90kmph struck exposed places in Auckland on Wednesday evening. The gales should ease by Thursday afternoon, when there is a chance of heavy rain, while the rain is expected to become occasional on Friday.
Snow showers have been forecast for Lewis Pass, Arthur's Pass, and Porters Pass roads on Thursday night.
While wind is picking up in the north of the country, with temperatures remaining in the mid to high teens, the mercury has plunged in the South Island: Timaru was officially the coldest part of New Zealand shortly after 12pm on just 0.7 degrees.
MetService was forecasting snow to 500 metres in Canterbury and Central Otago on Thursday, and in Canterbury on Friday.
Northeasterly gales were possible in Northland, Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula on Wednesday, and in Northland and Auckland on Thursday.
With the rain spreading everywhere on Thursday, heavy falls are possible in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Gisborne.
The rain looks set to clear from Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Westland and Canterbury on Friday. On Saturday showers are expected in the North Island for a time but are forecast to clear south of Auckland.
In the South Island, rain or showers are expected to develop in the west, and south of Canterbury on Saturday, while it should be mainly fine elsewhere.
The winter solstice is at 4.24pm on Wednesday. That is the point where the southern hemisphere is tilted furthest away from the sun.
Wednesday is also the shortest day of the year, with Auckland having nine hours and 37 minutes of daylight, while Invercargill has eight hours and 35 minutes.
While temperatures will keep falling for a time after the shortest day, the amount of daylight will start increasing, although only by seconds each day, at first.
Things do pick up and, according to Niwa, Invercargill will have about 30 minutes more daylight in a month, with Wellington having 25 minutes more and Auckland 21 minutes.
Wellington has periods of rain forecast from Thursday afternoon, and the wind is expected to become gusty from the southeast. Rain and southerlies are in the mix for Friday.
Rain is forecast to develop in Christchurch on Thursday morning and there will be a fresh southerly change. Periods of rain on Friday are expected to clear in the afternoon.