Thunderstorms are likely in the Western Bay tonight as wild weather sweeps the country.

Metservice issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch at 9.45am saying the Bay of Plenty west of Te Puke could expect "squally thunderstorms" from this evening until Friday afternoon.

Rain was also predicted to hit the Tauranga area, with the largest rainfall occurring midday.

An active front with thunderstorms rolling across the North Island will bring localised heavy rain, hail and strong wind gusts of 100km/h to areas like New Plymouth and Hamilton.


The same front will move across Auckland soon after, with morning commuters warned driving conditions could be very bad.

Unstable conditions continue over the North Island and upper South Island through to tomorrow morning, with a further high risk of thunderstorms from tonight bringing rain, hail and even stronger wind gusts reaching 110km/h or possibly more in places.

Snow could also lower to 1000m over the central North Island overnight tonight, possibly affecting the Desert Rd. Conditions were forecast to ease by the end of tomorrow.

Western regions on both islands would experience heavy rain today, especially in the morning and late afternoon, said WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan.

Gusty westerly winds were forecast for much of the North Island during the day before ramping up in the evening with gales possible especially in the west, Duncan said.

"Classic spring weather."