Severe winds and rain have forced the cancellation of a key Tauranga family event for tonight.

The waterfront light festival Winter Nights Winter Lights has now been cancelled due to a severe weather warning.

The event will take place as planned on Monday night from 6pm to 10pm with the weather looking significantly better.

A severe weather warning has been issued for the Bay of Plenty, west of Maketu.

Advertisement

Between 70 to 100mm of rain is expected today, mainly near the Kaimais, with peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr, with localised downpours possible.

Metservice meteorologist April Clark said the "biggie" today would be the effect of king tides arriving at the same tide north-easterly winds whipped up heavy north-east swells, Clark said.

"[The swell and king tides] mean we are looking at the potential for sea inundation on the eastern coast from Northland through to Bay of Plenty."

There was still some uncertainty because if winds were not as strong as expected the swell would be smaller, but she urged people living in coastal areas to be aware.