Cyclone Gita is barrelling into NZ, with worsening weather due to hit tonight.

The former tropical cyclone may be divided by the Southern Alps – sending the main storm over Banks Peninsula and a second, smaller storm towards the West Coast, the MetService says.

People are advised to check the latest heavy rain and strong wind warnings and watches, and to be well prepared.

IN YOUR AREA:
Northland:

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A strong wind watch is in place for six hours from 1pm today.

Northwesterlies may rise to severe gale in exposed places for a time.

Occasional showers are expected to become more frequent this afternoon.

A high of 27C and a low of 19C is expected in Whangarei.

Auckland:

Sunny spells and the odd shower in the morning, then patchy rain will develop later in the afternoon.

Like Northland, a strong wind watch is in place for six hours from 1pm. Humid Northerly winds will pick up, and become strong in exposed places for a time, then turn to easing Northwesterlies in the evening.

A high of 28C and a low of 19C is expected.

MetService Auckland rain radar for Tuesday, February 20. Photo / MetService
MetService Auckland rain radar for Tuesday, February 20. Photo / MetService

Bay of Plenty:

The Bay of Plenty is on the edge of the weather system and there are no warnings in place, although there is a strong wind watch for eight hours from 6pm Tuesday to 2am Wednesday.

Northerly winds may rise to severe gale in exposed places for a time.

The area will be mostly cloudy, with a few showers then evening rain. The total rainfall for Tauranga today is forecast for 3.9 mm.

A high of 26C and a low of 19C is also expected in the Mount.

Coromandel:

A strong wind watch is in place for six hours from 1pm today for the Coromandel Peninsula.

Northwesterlies may rise to severe gales in exposed places for a time.

The high tides for Thames are due today at 11.17am and 11.34pm.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has closed Kauaeranga Valley Rd, tracks, campsites and the Pinnacles Hut until March 30 for the second stage of storm damage repairs.

Waikato:

A few showers, more so from afternoon then expect a period of rain late afternoon and into the evening. Increasing Northerlies will become blustery this afternoon.

Even though it is looking unlikely that Gita will directly hit the Waikato, there is still a severe weather watch in place for strong wind from 1pm to 7pm today, big swells and severe gales are likely.

Gisborne and Hawke's Bay:

A strong wind watch has been issued, for eight hours from 6pm Tuesday to 2am Wednesday.

Northerly winds may rise to severe gale in exposed places for a time, and there is a chance of evening showers.

A high of 31C and a low of 20C is expected.

People duck for cover as waves lash the New Plymouth Walkway in central New Plymouth this afternoon as cyclone Gita sweeps down the west coast towards the South Island.
People duck for cover as waves lash the New Plymouth Walkway in central New Plymouth this afternoon as cyclone Gita sweeps down the west coast towards the South Island.

Taranaki:

A heavy rain watch is in place for Mt Taranaki for 10 hours from 11am to 9pm today.

Strong wind gusts will also hit Taranaki and Taihape between 3pm Tuesday to 1am Wednesday.

Severe gale north to northwest winds will gust up to 120 km/h in exposed parts of North Taranaki, and damaging gusts of 140 km/h will hit in exposed parts of South Taranaki and Taihape.

Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said the port operational area would be closed from 10am Tuesday, with all vessels excluded. The Lee Breakwater and carpark would be closed from 8am Tuesday.

Horowhenua/Kapiti/Wairarapa:

A heavy rain watch is in place for Horowhenua, the Tararua Range and Wairarapa for 5 hours from 11am to 4pm today. The timeframe will bring periods of heavy rain and rainfall amounts that may approach warning criteria.

Peak intensities are expected to reach 10 to 15mm per hour. Further lighter rain will fall for the remainder of the day.

Strong wind warnings are also in place between 6pm Tuesday to 6am Wednesday. Severe gale north to northwest winds will gust to 120 km/h in exposed places.

Manawatu/Whanganui:

At this stage the south of the region is likely to feel the effects of Gita the most, with Metservice issuing a severe wind watch for ten hours from 3pm Tuesday to 1am Wednesday.

Severe gale north to northwest winds gusting 120 km/h in exposed parts, and damaging gusts of 140 km/h in exposed parts of Whanganui.

Approximately 50ml of rain is forecasted for the Tararua Ranges and strong winds of 120-140km/h may be experienced in other parts of the region as well.

A wave warning has also been issued for the coastline from Waitotara to Otaki for Tuesday evening, with waves expected to rise to 6m.

Wellington:

A heavy rain watch is in place for three hours from 11am to 2pm today, with 41.6 mm having fell in the region by 2pm.

Peak intensities will fall at 10 to 15mm per hour. Further lighter rain is expected for the remainder of today.

A strong wind watch is in also place for 12 hours from 6pm Tuesday to 6am Wednesday.

Severe gale north to northwest winds gusting 120 km/h in exposed places, but 140 km/h in Wellington in the evening.

Air New Zealand has cancelled all services in and out of Wellington from 2.45pm today until midnight.

Nelson/Marlborough Sounds:

All Marlborough's Civil Defence agencies met this morning and the centre will be staffed until midnight tonight.

There is local road flooding in some parts of the region. People should restrict their travel today if possible. Road conditions are not good. State Highway 1 is closed at Clarence.

Rainfall is steady but not heavy and there is currently little wind.

A heavy rain watch is in place for 10 hours from 11am to 9pm today.

In addition to rain that has already accumulated expect a further 100 to 150mm of rain to in Nelson west of Motueka, and 70 to 100mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible.

Residents of the Monaco area of Nelson preparing for the arrival of ex-cyclone Gita. Evie Friesen, 3, helping position sandbags. Photo / Tim Cuff
Residents of the Monaco area of Nelson preparing for the arrival of ex-cyclone Gita. Evie Friesen, 3, helping position sandbags. Photo / Tim Cuff

A strong wind watch is also in place for 8 hours from 2pm to 10pm today.

Severe gale easterly winds with damaging gusts of 130 to 140 km/h in exposed places. Note that winds are expected to turn northwest severe gale gusting 130 km/h north of Nelson City this evening, easing overnight.

Civil Defence is ready to open civil defence centres if required.

The Cook Strait ferries Interislander and Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry are running as normal.

Blenheim airport is affected by flight cancellations; people should check with their airline.

Department of Conservation has been advising campers to leave its campsites.

Cyclone Gita has also closed State Highway 1 north and south of Kaikoura because of heavy rain and the risk of slips and rockfalls.

Buller region/ West Coast:

A heavy rain watch is in place for 10 hours from 11am to 9pm today.

In addition to rain that has already accumulated expect a further 100 to 150mm of rain to in Nelson west of Motueka, and 70 to 100mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible.

A strong wind watch is also in place for 8 hours from 2pm to 10pm today.

Severe gale easterly winds with damaging gusts of 130 to 140 km/h in exposed places.

There are no flights in and out of Westport today.

The following local roads have been closed as a safety precaution: Cnr Schadick and Airport, Eastern Tiphead Road, Les Warren Park entrance, North Beach access, Dickinson Parade.

All schools in the region have been closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Canterbury:

A heavy rain watch is in place for Canterbury including Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula for 24 hours from 11am Tuesday to 11am Wednesday.

In addition to rain that has already accumulated expect a further 90 to 150mm of rain to accumulate during this period about Canterbury High Country, and 70 to 100mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible about Canterbury High Country.

A strong wind warning is also issued between 12pm to 11pm today for the Canterbury High Country near the Alps.

Severe gale southeast winds with damaging gusts of 150 km/h possible in exposed places.

Those wind warnings also extend to Banks Peninsula northwards for 20 hours from 7pm Tuesday to 3pm Wednesday. Severe south to southeast gales gusting 130 km/h in exposed places.

Christchurch City Council is warning people who live in low-lying areas whose homes have flooded in the past should be prepared to self-evacuate this afternoon.

If there is an evacuation, the Council will open up Pioneer Stadium for people leaving their homes.

Contractors continue to check the storm water network and stopbanks across the city. Waste water overflows are likely, so treat all floodwater as contaminated.

The Council reminds motorists not to drive through floodwaters and to avoid any flooded areas so that water is not pushed onto residents' properties.

SH1 is currently closed both north and south of Kaikoura due to the weather conditions.

Otago:

A heavy rain watch is in place for 24 hours from 11am Tuesday to 11am Wednesday.

Periods of heavy rain, accumulations may approach short term warning amounts, for example 40mm in 12 hours.

A high of 14C and a low of 11C is expected. The total rainfall forecast for today is 27 mm.

Fiordland:

A strong wind watch is in place for 15 hours from 3pm on Tuesday to 6am Wednesday.

Southeasterlies may rise to severe gale in exposed places for a time.