The country is in for a stormy 48 hours with gales, intense rain and tropical thunderstorms set to lash many parts of New Zealand.

The MetService today issued heavy rain warnings for western and northern regions in both Islands. Significant downfalls are expected in coming hours.

Some of the heaviest deluges are expected to fall on Mt Taranaki, where up to 220mm of rain is expected in under a day.

Nelson is also expected to get a drenching. Up to 180mm of rain is forecast for the ranges from midday today and will not let up until tomorrow lunchtime.

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MetService is warning the deluges may cause flooding and slips and make driving conditions hazardous.

As well as rain across much of the North Island a strong wind watch has been issued for Auckland and Great Barrier Island, where gales gusting up to 100 km/h are expected to barrel across the region tomorrow afternoon.

The worst of the rain is expected to inundate the upper half of the North Island tomorrow but the MetService is forecasting some heavy falls are likely to spill over to Thursday when thunderstorms are possible for much of the country.

Meteorologist Tom Adams said the wind was also expected to strengthen to gale-force, tearing through Cook Strait tonight and peaking tomorrow.

Temperatures were expected to remain balmy thanks to a slab of warm tropical air sidling up to the country.