Thunderstorms are today bringing much-needed moisture to the gardens of many homes in the North Island.

Some areas in the Bay of Plenty, Taupo and Hawke's Bay are subject to a severe thunderstorm risk, meaning downpours of between 25mm and 40mm are possible.

Rain will be heavy and thunderstorms possible at times from North Taranaki, up to and including Auckland, Western Coromandel and Hokianga this afternoon, MetService meteorologist Andy Best said.

Lightning was hitting north of Hamilton about 8am today.

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"There's a cold front which is currently moving up the lower to middle North Island reaching the Tararua Ranges by midday and then moves north and lies over the Coromandel and South Auckland by midnight."

South, southeast winds will also be strong in places, reaching gale force at times before weakening quite rapidly, with showers clearing and conditions becoming fine.

In the South Island, showers are clearing around Banks Peninsula but otherwise it would be a fine day with light winds.

Everywhere apart from the West Coast should be warm on Christmas Day, according to weatherwatch.co.nz.
Everywhere apart from the West Coast should be warm on Christmas Day, according to weatherwatch.co.nz.

Most of the rain that has fallen across the country has landed in the west. Hokitika has received 23mm in the 12 hours to 8am. Unfortunately Wellington had only received enough to register 0.2mm at the airport and 0.6mmm at Kelburn.

It had also been windy in some areas. Banks Peninsula had wind speeds of up to 76km/h, along with gusts up to 94km/h.

Kaikoura also had gusts up to 85km/h.

Tomorrow and on Wednesday another cold front will make its way up the country, bringing showers to drought-stricken areas, including the Kapiti Coast, followed by cool southwesterlies.

Overnight lows will reach single digits in many areas, including Taupo, Palmerston North and Masterton. After weeks of temperatures near 30C, Invercargill will only reach 15C on Tuesday.

Another ridge will move onto the country from the west on Thursday before another front arrives that will weaken again on Friday.

Want to know the EXACT weather for Christmas? Sorry but that's impossible. The chaotic nature of weather means that...

Posted by MetService New Zealand on Saturday, 16 December 2017

As for Christmas Day, weatherwatch.co.nz has revealed its outlook.

It's picking rain to fall in Fiordland and the West Coast, with patchy rain in Southland later in the day.

In the North Island afternoon cloud build-ups may produce some isolated but heavy downpours around Waikato and Northland and other upper North Island areas.

Most areas should be warm, over 20C, apart from Fiordland and possibly Southland, which will be lucky to reach 20C.

Meanwhile, Whanganui is another town to break its stretch of dry weather, today clocking up 40 days of rain of less than 1mm, a record that was set back in 2013.

Showers are forecast over the next couple of days, but it's unclear if it will be enough to stop the record continuing.

TODAY'S TEMPERATURES

• Whangarei 26C
• Auckland 24C
• Hamilton 24C
• Tauranga 26C
• Wellington 19C
• Christchurch 19C
• Dunedin 17C
• Queenstown 21C
• Invercargill 16C