This week's weather is off to a chilly start with potentially severe gales, icy temperatures and rainfall as a cold front sweeps over the country.

MetService meteorologist April Clark said Hawke's Bay wasn't exempt from the winter blast and had a strong wind watch for the start of the week.

"A cold front is moving over the North Island during Sunday morning and there are southerlies strengthening behind it so that's just bringing up really cold air from the south."

"Showers will linger a little bit longer in those eastern North Island areas, so you guys are hanging on to the showers a bit longer than the rest of the country."

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A strong wind watch for exposed coastal areas of Hawkes Bay and Gisborne was issued on Sunday morning for the 19 hours from 11pm Sunday to 6pm Monday.

Cold southerly gales were forecast to spread up the country, potentially approaching severe gales at times, before slowly easing on Monday.

Strong southerlies would persist until Wednesday, keeping maximum temperatures at 11C while overnight lows dropped to 4C, Clark said.

"Really it's Monday and Tuesday that you'll be getting those really cold temperatures because those southerlies are lingering and bringing increasingly cold air over."

Motorists travelling on the Napier-Taupo Rd were cautioned to take care as conditions could be icy - the day starting with showers and cloudy periods.

"We are expecting a little bit of sleet about the Napier-Taupo Rd early Monday morning so that's something for people to look out for as well . . . .not just showery weather but also quite cold, sleety stuff about those higher passes."

She said temperatures were expected to ease as the week progressed and southeasterlies developed while southerlies died out.

"It starts to warm up a bit as we head into the latter part of the week. That's just as those southerlies start easing off and eventually start turning northwest with light winds."

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Overnight temperatures would remain well-below 10C on Wednesday and Thursday but daylight conditions would improve, Clark said.

"Those daytime temperatures are increasing because those southerlies are dying off and you get a bit more sun during the day."

Clark said it would be a bitter start to the week and encouraged locals to wrap up and stay indoors if possible.

People were advised to keep up to date with the latest forecasts in case any areas in the strong wind watch were upgraded to a full warning.