The region is set to be hammered by severe gales during the next 24 hours.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch covering most of the North Island as well as the top and bottom of the South Island.The forecast says there will be severe westerly gales from Auckland south and heavy rain in the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges.

The latest bout of bad weather was part of a front that would move rapidly across the country today bringing rain to western areas and westerly gales across much of the island.

A second front would cross the country tomorrow, bringing southwest gales to parts of Nelson, Otago and Southland.Today's strong winds were predicted to last from late afternoon until tonight in the lower half of the North Island but would not drop until tomorrow morning in the upper half.

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The heavy rain was expected after lunch and would clear tonight. MetService advised people stay up-to-date with weather forecasts.