Tauranga could be in for gale-force wind gusts and localised downpours today as a shape-shifting Cyclone Hola approaches.
The fast-moving cyclone - expected to have become an ex-tropical cyclone overnight - was forecast to move down the east coast of New Zealand today but it was unclear last night whether - or where - it would make landfall.
WeatherWatch.co.nz forecaster Phillip Duncan said Hola would be "morphing" from a circular cyclone shape into a more stretched-out low-pressure system as it approached the Bay of Plenty coastline today.
Its changeable nature was making it hard for forecasters to nail down exactly how severe the weather could be in the Bay and areas to the southwest. If it edges east and out to sea, forecasters say the impact will be less severe than if it tracks a little further west.
Models last night predicted patchy rain for Tauranga in the morning and strong southeasterly winds.
As the 200km-wide centre of the system "brushed past" the Bay in the afternoon it could bring heavier rain including downpours that with the potential to cause localised flooding.
Towards the evening the winds would turn southerly or southwesterly and Hola would be "gone by midnight" in Tauranga, Duncan said.
MetService had a severe wind warning in place for the Bay of Plenty and meteorologist Doug Mason said area could get gusts up to 120 or 130km/h.
He said rain was not expected to be "extreme" in Tauranga and the risk of coastal inundation was low.
Local authorities are monitoring the cyclone, and expected to have a better idea of its path this morning.
Craig Morris, Bay of Plenty Civil Defence duty controller, said in the meantime people should take "the usual preparations for potential high winds and heavy rain" and await more information.
Meanwhile, the arrival of Cyclone Hola will be yet another lost opportunity for Deep Star Charters skipper Garth Lelievre.
"It hasn't been a great late summer. We have been lucky to get 60 to 70 per cent of our charters away," the Tauranga-based charter operator said.
There had only been a couple of westerlies blowing since February, with the odd cyclone and easterlies and northeasterlies dominating the rest of the time.
"That has been the real difference this year - there have been a lot of swells."
Lelievre said easterly swells did not stop his charters, it just meant a few more spews.
He put lower-than-usual booking numbers for April down to unnecessary weather fear created by "information overload".
''People ring me saying that the weather looked fairly shitty, but I say it's not too bad. To be honest, it is the media. There is almost too much information."
His phone stopped ringing when approaching bad weather was in the news.
Today's cyclone will see him seeking the shelter of the Bridge Marina instead of his normal spot near Bobby's in Dive Crescent.
Luckily Hola was forecast to blow through quickly and he expected to be back in business by mid-week.