Some New Zealanders are in for a massive drop on the temperature gauge as a cold front moves up the country dropping overnight temperatures as low as 2C.

That same system has been wreaking havoc on the South Island's West Coast, dumping 153mm of rain in Milford Sound over the past 12 hours.

Further north, Franz Josef received 80mm and on the other side of the island gale-force northwesterlies ripped through Canterbury with gusts of 100km/h recorded in Le Bons Bay.

Heavy rain and wind warnings are being lifted this morning in the South Island as the front works its way into the North Island this afternoon, Metservice meteorologist Josh Griffin said.

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It will weaken as it moves north but there will be showers spreading through the day.

Heavy rain and wind watches have been issued for some exposed areas in its path.

There is a chance of significant heavy rain in the Tararua Range for a time today, and northwesterlies may reach severe gale in exposed parts of Southland, Otago, the Canterbury Plains including Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, Marlborough, Wellington and Wairarapa, including the Tararua District until around midday Friday.

Strong northwesterlies will precede the front, with relatively warm temperatures, before a big drop with the front colder southwest change.

Napier will go from a high of 28C today to 18C tomorrow.

Queenstown and Alexandra are in for a chilly night tonight with bitterly cold lows of 2C forecast.

With clear skies also forecast there is a chance of frost, Griffin said.

On Saturday a high lies over the South Island, and an east to southeasterly flows cover the North Island.

The high will build over much of the country during the weekend, bringing fine weather for most places.

The upper North Island can expect a few showers, and Northland may get some rain courtesy of the remnants of ex-tropical cyclone Linda.

The storm, which reached Category 1 cyclone level on Wednesday, formed to the northeast of Queensland and brought dangerous waves to parts of Australia's East Coast.

"But that ridge of high pressure should keep the effects [of Linda] largely to the north of the country," Griffin said.

Today's weather

• Whangarei

Cloudy at times. Light winds. 22C high, 15C overnight.

• Auckland

Fine this morning. Partly cloudy from afternoon. Light winds. 24C high, 16C overnight.

• Hamilton

Cloud increasing, chance shower. Westerly breeze. 23C high, 14C overnight.

• Tauranga

Fine. Westerly winds. 24C high, 16C overnight.

• New Plymouth

Cloudy. Occasional showers, mainly this afternoon. Northwesterlies turn southwest at night. 21C high, 13C overnight.

• Napier

Fine, afternoon high cloud. Northwesterlies. Chance shower tonight with southerly change. 28C high, 14C overnight.

• Wellington

Cloudy at times with northerlies, strong where exposed. Chance shower with strong southerly around 8pm. 22C high, 12C overnight.

• Nelson

Fine, high cloud at times. Westerlies, dying out this evening. 24C high, 12C overnight.

• Christchurch

Fine with northerlies this morning, then cloudy and chance shower with a southerly change around midday. 24C high, 9C overnight.

• Dunedin

A few showers clearing this afternoon. Strong southwesterlies, easing evening. 18C high, 7C overnight.