Destructive storm-force winds of up to 140km/h are set to batter the capital in coming days while the far south braces for heavy snow.

A series of severe weather warnings has been issued for southern and central New Zealand as a "significant" spring storm bears down on the country.

Gale force winds are expected to batter much of the South Island and the lower North Island while heavy rain is expected to drench the West Coast.

People are being warned to brace for damage and disruption with power poles expected to topple and floodwaters and slips to block roads. A fresh dumping of snow down to low levels is also expected to cause major problems.

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The worst of the weather is expected to strike tomorrow night.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said no part of the country would escape the wrath of the coming storm with strong winds everywhere.

The most fierce gusts would race through Cook Strait, Wellington and Wairarapa with destructive 140km/h gusts.

Other parts of the lower North Island and top of the south would be buffeted by gusts of up to 130 km/h.

A number of wind warnings and watches were in place for the lower half of the North Island and virtually all of the South Island.

The wind was coupled with intense rain in the western regions of the South Island with up to 180mm of rain expected to fall within the space of 13 hours in the ranges.

The rain would turn to heavy snow down to 400m in Fiordland, Southland, Otago and South Canterbury.

"As that rain comes through it will also meet up with cold air so overnight on Tuesday we could see some snow in southern parts down to about 400m."

She said it could pose problems with power with poles collapsing under the weight of the heavy spring snow fall, coupled with strong winds. People were warned to be prepared for power cuts.

"The cold air combined with the low is going to bring some really significant weather," said Murray.

A heavy snow watch had been issued for the Mackenzie Basin, Central Otago, Southern Lakes and parts of Otago and Southland.

Murray said the North Island would get the worst blast of the weather on Wednesday as the rapidly deepening low moved across the country.

Relief was in sight with weather improving overnight Wednesday with mainly fine conditions for much of the country on Thursday.