What you need to know:

• The centre of the low is several hundred kilometres to the northeast of Northland.

• Between 1pm and 4pm it is expected to be lying to the east of Cape Reinga, and at 7pm was expected to be about 250km east northeast of Auckland.

• Heavy rain warnings are in place for Northland, Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne.


• Rain could also be heavy in Auckland (mainly north of Orewa), Waikato, western Bay of Plenty and the eastern ranges, and northern Hawke's Bay.

• Severe gales with gusts to 120km/h are forecast. MetService says the strongest winds are expected in Northland, Auckland (mainly about Great Barrier Island and the Hauraki Gulf), Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty (mainly about the ranges) and Gisborne.

Gusts of 120km/h and heavy rain have cancelled flights in Northland as Cyclone Hola creeps past the North Island.

The storm that wreaked havoc as a Category 3 cyclone in Vanuatu and New Caledonia last week, has been downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone and is sitting to the northeast of the North Island.

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths told NZ Herald Focus heavy rain and strong winds had started in Northland.

Wind gusts of 120km/h have been recorded and up to 150mm rain is forecast to fall in areas to 8pm tonight.

12 Mar, 2018 1:29pm
3 minutes to read

Air New Zealand cancelled flights in Whangarei and Kerikeri this morning.

"Three one-way services between Kerikeri and Auckland and three one-way services between Whangarei and Auckland have been cancelled due to weather this morning," a spokeswoman said.

"Customers booked to travel today are advised to keep an eye on the arrivals and departures page of Air New Zealand's website for up to date flight information."

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Metservice says it’ll bring strong winds and rain but clear by early tomorrow, with another potential cyclone forming in the Coral Sea.

As the storm tracks further southeast it will also deliver rain to Coromandel, Great Barrier Island Bay of Plenty and Gisborne later today and overnight, but it is expected to be short-lived.

Downpours of up to 130mm could fall on Great Barrier Island by 11pm tonight, and as much as 150mm around Gisborne by 3am tomorrow.

As Hola was a relatively compact system, and given its centre was tracking offshore, the most severe weather was missing the country.

Estimates placed Hola to be lying to the east of Cape Reinga between 1 and 4pm on Monday, and at 7pm it was expected to be about 250km east northeast of Auckland.

"Most of the worst of the rain and winds are offshore, really just periphery we are seeing, not like Fehi and Gita.

"And this should be quite quick, gone early tomorrow morning."

Metservice explains the naming process and what the next tropical storm will be called.

In Northland, rain and winds would be easing by this evening, in the Coromandel overnight and Gisborne by tomorrow morning.

It had been a particularly "active" cyclone season, and we could expect another one or two before the season ended in April.

Another system was forming in the Coral Sea, just south of the Solomon Islands.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said it could be named Tropical Cyclone Linda sometime in the next few days.

"There is a lot of variation at the moment. There is a chance it could affect New Zealand, but significant chance it could affect Australia.

"But at the moment it could go anywhere. We need to deal with [Hola] first."

If it did start tracking for New Zealand it would not arrive until next weekend at the earliest, he said.

Regions preparing

Emergency services have begun preparations in the areas most likely to be impacted by Hola.

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management has its five Community Link groups activated and extra resources sent to the top of the East Coast.

Emergency manager Louise Bennett said public safety messaging had been sent out since Friday.

Rain would be developing in the Gisborne/East Coast region from mid-afternoon and increasing in intensity from early morning through to 6am Tuesday.

Severe wind gusts were forecast from 7pm tonight, particularly north of Tolaga Bay.

A high tide at around 3.30am could bring storm surges and wave run-ups into the district's rivers, estuaries and drains as river levels peak at around the same time.

Gisborne District Council staff have been checking essential infrastructure to ensure its free of debris and in working order.

River wardens and farmers have been notified of the potential for rivers to reach high levels.

Fire and Emergency NZ will send extra resources into the top of the East Coast to provide security and quick response for local communities, Bennett said.

"We advise people stay home and stay safe tonight and prepare this afternoon for the probability of high winds and a lot of rain."

People are advised to listen to the radio and keep an eye on Tairawhiti CDEM Facebook page, council's website gdc.govt.nz and flood monitoring models.

Auckland Civil Defence and Emergency Management said people should start preparing for the cyclone before it hit.

"Now is a good time to do a storm check, clear your yard of debris, tie down or pack away any loose equipment or trampolines and make sure your important devices are charged, just in case."

Civil Defence Northland also urged people to take "basic precautions" to minimise the risk of damage.

That included trimming back overhanging branches, making sure gutters and drains were clear, and checking boat moorings, sails and covers.