Flag the lawns and snuggle up with the TV remote - it's looking like a wash-out of a weekend for much of New Zealand as a soggy, warm weather system sinks southwards, tipping out some bouts of heavy rain.

Heavy rain doused the top of the North Island yesterday and last night as a slow-moving subtropical low struck.

Weather stations north of Whangarei recorded between 30-35mm rain during a six-hour period during the day, with heavier showers predicted overnight.

Heavy rain was also forecast in the Auckland and Coromandel regions overnight and into Saturday morning.

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Almost 43mm of rain had been recorded in Keri Keri by 7.30pm yesterday. The total rainfall in Auckland was 12.6mm by mid evening.

And more rain is predicted today.

The only good chance for battling the grass and drying the laundry outside today might be in Canterbury - but you'll have to be quick as the rain may set in from late morning according to the MetService.

And while the wet is bearing down on New Zealand from the northeast and later from the southwest, a weather system continues to rumble between Fiji and Samoa, threatening to brew up into a tropical cyclone that could hit New Zealand.

The Fiji Meteorological Service rates as "high" the chance of this system developing into a cyclone either today or tomorrow.


Weather analysts in New Zealand, however, remain uncertain about where the cyclone, if it develops, might go and what impact if might have.

Weather Watch said one model indicated a "direct hit" of the system on New Zealand, while another showed it heading down into the Tasman Sea.

Philip Duncan, of Weather Watch, said its path wouldn't be known until Monday.

MetService meteorologist Gerrit Keyser said that although the tropical system is expected to intensify, there are few specifics yet. "There's a lot of uncertainty around it still".

Looking at today's forecast, Keyser said the system that delivered rain to Northland from Thursday night moves south over the North Island.

The whole North Island would get rain today, with heavy falls in some areas, and the wet would gradually spread onto the South Island too.

"By Saturday night, that band of rainfall reaches the northern part of the South Island," Keyser said.

From the south, another band of rain would move north, bringing some rain to the West Coast of the South Island.

The MetService updated its warning of severe weather for Northland yesterday, stating that the heaviest rain was expected about the region's eastern hills. For today, periods of rain, with some possibly heavy and thundery falls, are forecast.

Duncan said the heaviest falls of rain today looked likely to be just west of Auckland and Northland. The rain would push down to the lower North Island by the end of the day.

He expected most of the South Island would stay dry today, but there could be showers or drizzle in some areas.

MetService forecast

Auckland

Today

- Periods of rain, possibly heavy in the morning. 26C

Tomorrow

- Rain, possibly heavy. 26C

Monday

- Rain at times, possibly heavy. 27C

Hamilton
Today - Periods of rain. 25C
Tomorrow - Periods of rain, possibly heavy. 26C
Monday - Periods of rain, possibly heavy at times. 27C

Tauranga
Today - Periods of rain. 24C
Tomorrow - Rain becoming persistent, possibly heavy. 25C
Monday - Rain, possibly heavy. 26C

Wellington
Today - Periods of rain, more frequent from afternoon. 23C
Tomorrow - Periods of rain. 25C
Monday - Rain at times. 24C

Christchurch
Today - Occasional rain from late morning. 22C
Tomorrow - Occasional rain, clearing at night. 21C
Monday - A few spots of rain. 30C

Dunedin
Today - Possible shower morning and evening. 21C
Tomorrow - Rain at times. 21C
Monday - Rain at times, clearing evening. 24C