Rotorua is set to be hit from late this afternoon by ex-tropical cyclone Hola.
By this morning heavy rain started falling in the Far North.
A severe weather warning remains in place for Rotorua and Bay of Plenty with potentially damaging winds expected from about 5pm today.
The MetService warning said gale southeasterlies would develop late this afternoon, then turning gale southwesterly overnight tonight, with severe gales gusting 120km/h to 130km/h in exposed places.
The winds will ease around dawn tomorrow, it said.
MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said there was a strong wind warning in place for Rotorua from 6pm tonight to 6am tomorrow.
"Most of Rotorua is well-sheltered from the south easterly, but the likes of Hamurana will feel the brunt of the southwesterly gusts.
"The eastern ranges - away from where people live - will be where the worst winds are on land in the Bay of Plenty, and it could be a sleepless night for people in exposed places."
Adams also said the Bay Of Plenty, west of Te Puke, should expect up to 60mm of rain over nine hours tonight, but the worst of the wind and rain would be offshore.
Meanwhile Mokoia Intermediate in Rotorua has postponed the start of a school camp for around 100 students because of the poor forecast.
A third of the school was meant to head to Thornton Beach in Whakatane this morning, but they will go tomorrow instead once the storm has passed.
Principal Rawiri Wihapi said the group would now be there from Tuesday to Friday.
"It was a hard call to make but it's better to take the precaution for the health and safety of the kids,".
additional reporting by Samantha Olley
Top tips in wild weather
• Store outdoor furniture inside or stack it up in a sheltered corner
• Secure your trampoline
• Do a quick check of your property and pick up any objects that could be picked up by the wind
• Check your emergency supplies to ensure you have fresh water, food and medication, as well as resources in case there is a power outage, ensure you have candles or torches handy
• Check gutters and drains on and outside your property and remove any blockages to avoid flooding around the house
• Store away outdoor furniture and play equipment or stack it where it can't blow around or cause any harm
• If your garage is vulnerable to flooding move items off the floor if possible and consider getting some sandbags – these can be purchased at garden centres and gardening supply centres
• Stay away from the water's edge. Levels can rise faster than expected and the ground can become unstable
• Keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours.
Where to get information
• For the latest weather and forecast charts please go to http://metservice.com/
• Go to the Civil Defence preparedness link on the Rotorua Lakes Council website to find out how to ensure you and your whanau/family are prepared and know what to do in case of a disaster
• To report flooding, fallen trees, debris or slips call Rotorua Lakes Council on (07) 348 4199 any time
• Check national roading information at http://www.nzta.govt.nz/
• For power outage information call Unison on 0800 286 476 or visit www.unsion.co.nz/outages