Crowds flocked to beaches yesterday as summer truly arrived with much of the country basking in high temperatures and sunshine that is set to continue this week.

Temperatures hit 30C in parts of Christchurch yesterday and were hovering in the balmy mid 20s throughout Auckland.

And in Hawke's Bay, firefighters had to turn on the hoses to help cool the kids down at the Waipukurau Community Christmas Parade as temperatures soared into the mid 20s.

The early days of December have had higher temperatures than usual for this time of year and meteorologists expect it to continue - at least for a few days.

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MetService meteorologist Tom Smith said the South Island would experience the warmest weather with almost all regions in for plenty of sunshine this week. Fiordland and south Westland were the only exception with rain expected.

"A lot of places around the South Island will see some pretty warm temperatures for the start of the week," he said.

Parts of Canterbury haven't had rain in a month and highs of 29C and 30C are forecast to continue until at least Tuesday.

It would be a mostly dry heat but those on the coast could expect a bit of humidity thanks to sea breezes which tended to bring mugginess.

"In the North Island we're continuing to see generally fine weather but in more inland areas we'll see afternoon showers and even thunderstorms, which is basically just a continuation of what's been happening in the past few days."

Aucklanders can expect a few light showers today and Tuesday, along with some cloud, but temperatures are expected to float around the mid 20s.

In the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga can also expect rain on Sunday and Monday, with temperatures hovering around 23C.

In Wellington temperatures are expected to peak at 23C on Tuesday, but conditions should be sunny with some cloud.

The west coast would see some "light rain" and it would be warm and dry in the east, he said.

The balmy temperatures had come earlier than expected.

"The sort of temperatures we're experiencing across the country are definitely higher than average."

The warm weather brought with it reports of people in trouble in the water.

Surf life savers reported thousands headed to northern region beaches in Auckland, Waikato and Northland.

Two people drowned in Auckland and Bay of Plenty - a swimmer at Muriwai in west Auckland, and a person who fell off a boat in Tauranga.

The unseasonably warm temperatures were a stark contrast to those living across the ditch where torrential rain was lashing Melbourne yesterday.

Some townships in Victoria state had to be evacuated but flights to and from New Zealand weren't impacted.

WARM WEATHER FOR MONDAY

Auckland: High: 25C Low: 15C
Tauranga: High: 23C Low: 16C
Wellington: High: 21C Low: 16C
Christchurch: High: 30C Low: 13C