A mixed weather bag is brewing for the country with heavy rain and wind warnings in the South Island, but mostly settled weather over the North Island.

However, the remnants of an ex-tropical cyclone battering Australia's East Coast with dangerous surf could bring rain to the Far North tomorrow.

MetService meteorologist Micky Malivuk said the South Island would feel the brunt of the weather.

Heavy rain is forecast in the west - with potential thunderstorms - and northwest gales in the east from this afternoon into early Friday.


Later in the day some of that rain will spread to Southland and Otago.

A front is forecast to move on to the lower South Island from the west this evening, preceded by a strong, moist northwesterly flow and followed by a cooler west to southwest flow on Friday as it tracks northwards.

The front delivers a period of heavy northwesterly rain to Fiordland and Westland south of Otira on Thursday, with significant spillover into the headwaters of the Canterbury lakes and rivers.

Strong northwesterlies are expected ahead of the front, with severe gales possible in exposed parts of Canterbury, Otago and Southland from Thursday evening until the early hours of Friday morning.

Heavy rain warnings are in place for Fiordland from 11am today to 3am Friday, Westland south of Otira from 3pm Thursday to 7am Friday and the headwaters of the Canterbury lakes and rivers from Arthurs Pass southwards from 7pm tonight to 7am Friday.

In Fiordland and Canterbury headwaters 100 to 150mm is expected, and in the ranges above Westland 150 to 200mm. Between 60 and 80mm is forecast near the coast.

The east coast of the South Island and most of the North Island should be in for a fine few days however, Malivuk said.

"In the east and most of the North Island it should be a fine day with just the odd shower."

Temperatures will average about the low 20s for most of those areas.

As the southwest front moves into the South Island it will drop temperatures by several degrees, and even greater in some places.

In Christchurch it is forecast to go from 24C today to 16C on Saturday.

It is forecast to move into the lower North Island tomorrow, reaching Taranaki, and as it leaves the South Island a ridge will fill in bringing more settled weather.

As the front moves north it weakens, but may still bring a few showers later on Friday and Saturday as it combines with the easterly flow.

For most, it should be a relatively fine weekend.

"The weather settles in the South Island on Saturday, and the North Island over the weekend is not looking too bad, with just a few showers on the East Coast."

Ex-tropical cyclone Linda was downgraded from a Category 1 cyclone yesterday afternoon, and is gradually weakening off the Queensland coast.

"What's left of it is still sitting off the Queensland coast," Malivuk said.

"Some energy of it has been shaved off and is being pushed over to Northland. There might be some rain from that in the Far North tonight and into Friday, but it will be pushed away when the front gets there by Saturday."

Today's weather
• Whangarei

Cloudy. Light winds. 22C high, 15C overnight.

• Auckland

Fine with high cloud. Light winds afternoon sea breezes. 22C high, 16C overnight.

• Hamilton

Cloudy at times. Westerly breezes. 21C high, 13C overnight.

• Tauranga

Fine with high cloud. Light winds afternoon sea breezes. 23C high, 15C overnight.

• New Plymouth

Cloudy at times. Few afternoon and evening showers. Westerly breezes. 21C high, 17C overnight.

• Napier

Fine, with high cloud. Northwesterlies. 24C high, 15C overnight.

• Wellington

Cloudy at times. Northwesterlies, strong from afternoon. 20C high, 16C overnight.

• Nelson

Fine with high cloud. Northerlies. 23C high, 15C overnight.

• Christchurch

Fine. High cloud at times. Northerlies. 24C high, 14C overnight.

• Dunedin

High cloud at times. Northerlies turn strong westerly this evening. 22C high, 11C overnight.