A weekend indoors will be on the cards for many, with forecasters expecting wintry weather in the coming days.

Severe rain and wind warnings have been issued for parts of the South Island and lower North Island due to a vigorous front moving up from the bottom of the country.

Residents in Canterbury and Wairarapa would be the first to feel the foul weather, with blustery northwesters moving in ahead of the front.

"Take note of the strong winds and heavy rain for Friday and this weekend," MetService meteorologist John Law said.


"Heavy rain pushing up against the Alps will increase rainfall totals for parts of Westland and Fiordland, with some of that rain expected to spill over into the headwaters of Otago and Canterbury."

Those in the South Island would feel a drop in temperatures, with showers also forecast around the southern and western parts of the island, MetService said.

A brief respite in the cold weather on Sunday was possible, with clear skies expected before another burst of cold air across the country.

Icy temperatures were also likely to bring significant snowfalls for the Southern Alps and snow showers for parts of Southland, Otago and Westland to low levels on Sunday.

For North Islanders, rain was expected on Saturday.

WeatherWatch said a "sizeable storm" in the southern ocean was likely to push gales and rain into southern parts of both islands this weekend.

The low would churn south of New Zealand until next week, with the coldest of the weather moving northwards on Sunday and Monday.

"Invercargill will go from highs around 12 or 13 to highs of 7 and 8 this coming Sunday and Monday," WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said.

"The wind chill factor will certainly feel below zero in exposed places."

Northern centres like Hamilton, Auckland, Whangarei and Tauranga were unlikely to have such a dramatic drop in the mercury, with highs expected to slide by a degree or two by Monday and Tuesday, WeatherWatch said.

Frost and fog was possible on Tuesday and Wednesday in those areas.

Those in the South Island would likely see a lift in temperatures by Wednesday.

Watch WeatherWatch report:

Heavy rain warnings:

* Fiordland, north of Doubtful Sound, now until 10am Friday

* Ranges of Westland, south of Otira, 3pm until 5pm Friday

* Headwaters of Otago lakes and rivers, now until midday Friday

* Headwaters of Canterbury lakes and rivers, now until 5pm Friday

* Ranges of Buller and Westland, north of Otira, 9pm today to 9am Saturday


Strong wind warnings

* Canterbury, especially inland North Canterbury, Friday

* Marlborough, Friday afternoon to Saturday morning

* Wellington, Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon

* Wairarapa, Friday afternoon to Saturday evening

Source: MetService