Baking hot temperatures have sent more than 10 times as many people to the beach this year to take a dip on the first weekend of summer.

At the peak there were 7599 people at patrolled beaches with from Northland through to Waikato.

This time last year just 687 people were at northern beaches at the peak, with wind and showers forecast for the first weekend of 2016's summer.

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Hot north east winds and summer rain for Northland

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Eleven people had to be rescued across the region this weekend, compared to none last year, northern duty manager Duncan Buchanan said.

"Lifeguards had a few rescues, searches and first-aid incidents across the beaches but generally the public were well behaved and enjoyed the fine weather and unusually small surf on the West Coast," Buchanan said.

Kids play in the water at Browns Bay while the Sir Peter Blake Regatta takes place in the background. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Kids play in the water at Browns Bay while the Sir Peter Blake Regatta takes place in the background. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Temperatures across the country were in the mid 20s today, with Auckland and Wellington reaching 24C and Dunedin hitting 26C.

Today's hottest spot was Hanmer Springs near Christchurch, where the thermometer hit 31C. Waiouru was the coolest with a high of 20C.

The Metservice is predicting temperatures will go even higher on Monday as an anticyclone hovers over New Zealand.

"It's good news for the working week. The ridge is set to persist until Friday, which means a continuation of warm, settled weather," MetService meteorologist Ciaran Doolin said.

However, the conditions are looking less favourable for the thunderstorms that brought nearly 40,000 lightning strikes across the country last week.

"Isolated showers are likely to continue to affect inland and higher ground areas during the afternoons and evenings," Doolin said.

Sun should prevail across most of the country this week, apart from some rain in the far south - mainly Fiordland - for Monday and Tuesday.

Weatherwatch forecast a little cloud may roll over Wellington and some of the hills and ranges between Northland and the east coast, bringing a small possibility of a shower.

Temperatures will range from the early to mid-20s, Weatherwatch said. Parts of Taranaki through to the Waikato could hit 27C or 28C.

Parts of the South Island will get even hotter, with inland Buller and Nelson potentially hitting the early 30s.

Weatherwatch said a low might bring some rain in a week's time, and meanwhile in the next few days some areas could even swelter close to the mid-30s.

Soil moisture has plummeted in the last three weeks, and the ground is now drier or much drier than normal in many areas, according to Niwa.

MONDAY'S FORECAST

WHANGAREI

Fine, chance of an afternoon shower. High 24C, Overnight 16C

AUCKLAND Fine, light winds. High 25C, Overnight 16C

HAMILTON Fine, light winds. High 27C, Overnight 13C

TAURANGA Fine, light winds. High 24C, Overnight 17C

NAPIER Fine, light winds. High 25C, Overnight 16C

WELLINGTON Fine with some cloud, fresh northerlies. High 22C, Overnight 16C