Forecasters are predicting rain on and off for much of the country today, but the rest of winter is expected to be drier and warmer than normal.

Today's MetService forecast shows Westland and the eastern Bay of Plenty will face the brunt of the wet with heavy rain watches in place. Moist northerlies are forecast to move slowly over both areas, potentially bringing large amounts of rain. Thunderstorms are also possible in the Bay of Plenty.

People are advised to keep up to date with forecasts in case the watches are upgraded to warnings, MetService said.

Weatherwatch.co.nz is also expecting patchy rain and showers across the most of the country, with the east coast of the North Island getting some sunshine. Fieldays, which begins today at Mystery Creek in Hamilton, is likely to be cloudy with just a few showers.

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Fieldays, which starts today at Mystery Creek in Hamilton, is likely to be cloudy with just a few showers. Photo / Stephen Barker
Fieldays, which starts today at Mystery Creek in Hamilton, is likely to be cloudy with just a few showers. Photo / Stephen Barker

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But while winter has had a cold and snowy start, Niwa is predicting a mid-winter lull as high pressure systems arrive in mid-June and July. August could even see spring-like conditions, as westerlies bring warmer air from Australia.

Niwa principal scientist Chris Brandolino said temperatures would be warmer than average from now till the end of winter, despite the chilly start to June.

Any cold snaps would likely be short-lived, Brandolino said. Looking at July and August "there may be some cold snaps but they're probably not going to define the next couple of months".

The North Island and the West Coast could see less than normal rainfall over winter, according to Niwa forecasts. However, farmers in the east of the South Island are likely to get slightly more rain than normal.

Today's weather

Whangārei

- Morning rain easing to occasional showers. Light winds. High 17C, Low 8C

Auckland - Cloudy. Occasional showers developing late morning. Northeasterlies dying out in the afternoon. High 16C, Low 8C

Hamilton - Mostly cloudy, a few showers. Light winds. High 15C, Low 6C

Tauranga - A few showers, turning to rain this afternoon, possibly heavy and thundery. Northerly breezes. High 16C, Low 10C

New Plymouth - Periods of rain. Northerlies easing, then turning southeast this evening. High 15C, Low 9C

Napier - Mostly cloudy. Rain developing evening. Northerly breezes. High 16C, Low 9C

Whanganui - Mostly cloudy. Periods of rain from late evening. Northerly breezes turn southeast in the evening. High 17C, Low 9C

Wellington - Cloudy. Rain overnight. Northerlies change to southerly evening. High 15C, Low 11C

Nelson - Rain easing in the afternoon. Winds mainly light. High 15C, Low 8C

Christchurch - Mostly cloudy, occasional light rain. Southwest breezes. High 12C, Low 7C

Dunedin - Mostly cloudy, occasional light rain. Southwest breezes. High 12C, Low 8C