By 3 News online staff
A severe weather watch is in place for much of the central North Island and parts of the South Island, with heavy rain and gale force winds forecast over the next few days.
The rain has already started in many places, with roads becoming dangerous.
Police are warning motorists to lower their speeds and drive to the conditions, as recent dry periods mean the rain is making road surfaces particularly slippery. There have already been numerous crashes in the Waikato area this morning due to wet roads.
Heavy rain warnings are in place for northern Fiordland, Westland, Otago Lakes District, western Nelson, Mount Taranaki and the Tararua Ranges.
MetService says heavy rain is expected today in Buller and the Richmond and Bryant Ranges, as well as Taranaki, Tongariro National Park and South Waikato.
Rain is also spreading northwards through Southland, Otago and Canterbury today.
The Bay of Plenty is forecast to get rain later today and tomorrow.
WeatherWatch weather analyst Richard Green says hail is also a possibility in the South Island.
“It’s a tricky one to accurately predict but there’s a chance if all the key ingredients come together that a southerly squall could produce brief fireworks.”
MetService says there could be gale force north-westerlies in Wellington and Wairarapa this afternoon.
In the upper North Island, WeatherWatch forecasts rain as well as a chance of thunderstorms south of Auckland.
A drop in temperature around the country is expected from tomorrow.
People are advised to check forecasts for any new weather warnings throughout the day.