Cantabrians will need to batten down the hatches as wild weather is expected this afternoon.

A cold front, bringing a southwesterly flow and rain, is moving northeast over the South Island bringing with it a high risk of thunderstorms for Canterbury right down to Oamaru.

Hail is expected to pelt down in Christchurch at around 5pm, with heavy rain and strong gusts hitting later this evening.

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The quick-moving and weakening front will sweep the North Island tomorrow, bringing showers for some.

"Wellington will wake to showers on Saturday morning but the North Island should escape with not too bad weather for the second half of Sunday," said MetService meteorologist Kyle Lee.

The weather was generally fine in the North Island today, apart from cloudy periods.