High winds and cold temperatures are sweeping across the country, bringing an end to a sunny, dry April, but summer should get at least one last gasp later this week.

In the lower North Island, gales reaching 130km/h downed power lines, felled trees and lifted roofing iron overnight, a Fire Service spokesman said.

Emergency services were called to six weather-related incidents in Island Bay, Kilbirnie, Roseneath and Johnsonville in Wellington, and one in Levin.

In West Coast, wild weather - and possibly a mini tornado - knocked out power and lifted a roof near Hokitika yesterday evening.


Hokitika chief fire officer Harry Collett said a power pole transformer caught fire at Duffers Creek Road, at Awatuna, about 8.30pm.

Trees were set alight and power was lost to the surrounding areas.

Mr Collett said the high winds also lifted a house roof at Three Mile. It was possibly a small tornado.

There were also reports of wind damage at Ross, again possibly a mini tornado.

Southerlies whipped across the lower half of the South Island overnight and this morning and temperatures dropped to winter levels, according to WeatherWatch.

"Daytime highs today might struggle to get up into double figures for parts of Otago, Southland and even on the Coast perhaps'' said weather analyst Richard Green.

"I think the cold is more noticeable for this chilly change as the weather lately has been so pleasant and settled over many areas'' he said.

Skifields in both islands should see a reasonable dump of snow over the next 36-48 hours, and some had already fallen in some southern areas.

However, it was likely to melt soon as temperatures rise later this week.

WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said the wild weather can be blamed on a large storm which stretches from Antarctica right up over the South Island.

"It's a huge storm, stretching up from Antarctica and reaching New Zealand ... but it's just swiping us, not directly hitting us.

"This system for most of the centres isn't going to be actually that severe but it's going to be enough to knock some temperatures back a little bit.''

However, another high is set to move in on Wednesday, bringing with it sunny days and clear skies which Mr Duncan said should remain until the end of next weekend.