A heavy rain watch is in place for the Bay of Plenty east of Te Puke, that includes Rotorua and Gisborne.

MetService issued the severe weather watch this morning and says a low-pressure system over the North Island was moving to the east of the country late this afternoon or this evening.

"The low brings periods of rain to the eastern regions of the North Island until the middle of this afternoon, followed by a sharp cold southerly change over the country," the report said.

The forecast was for the possibility of periods of heavy rain or showers between 10am to 2pm, and also the chance that the amount of rain may reach warning criteria.

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People were advised to keep up to date with latest MetService forecasts in case this severe weather watch was upgraded to a full warning.