Severe gales are forecast to batter central and southern areas of the North Island as well as spates of heavy rain to the east.

The South Island, aside from waking up to a chilly morning, will have mostly fine weather leading into the weekend.

An unsettled and strong south to southeast flow over central New Zealand would deliver periods of heavy rain to eastern parts of the North Island and gale south to southeasterlies to central and southern parts of the North Island, MetService said.

The complex low-pressure system east of the North Island that has been hanging over the country all week was forecast to remain slow moving through Friday, while another low may cross eastern parts of the North Island from the southeast, MetService said.

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A heavy rain watch was in place for Gisborne, south of Tokomaru Bay.

A heavy rain warning was in place for Hawke's Bay with up to 120mm of rain expected to fall about the ranges north of Napier.

Meanwhile, a strong wind watch was in place for Bay of Plenty, including Rotorua, Taupō and Taihape, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki and Wellington.
Winds could reach severe gales strength in exposed areas.

Hawke's Bay was swollen with the rainfall of the past few days with MetService reporting 290mm of rain in 60 hours yesterday.

Looking ahead, the upper North Island would greet the new week with rain falling about Northland and Auckland.

A ridge of high-pressure was forecast to remain slow moving over southern and central New Zealand.

"Meanwhile, a deep low is expected to approach the Chatham Islands from the east late Saturday, directing a strong southwest flow over the east of the North Island.

"There is low confidence of southwesterly gales becoming severe about coastal parts of southern Gisborne and the Wairoa District later Saturday and during Sunday. On Monday, this low should move away to the east."

On Monday another low may approach the upper North Island, directing "a moist easterly flow over Northland and Auckland", before moving away on Tuesday.

"There is low confidence of rainfall amounts reaching warning criteria in Northland and northern parts of Auckland including Great Barrier Island later Monday and during Tuesday.

Today's weather
Whangārei: Mainly fine, chance shower from afternoon. Southerlies. High 16C Low 8C

Auckland: Fine spells, and chance afternoon shower or two. Southerlies. High 17C Low 9C

Tauranga: Cloudy periods. A few afternoon showers, then becoming fine evening and brisk southwesterly easing. High 17C Low 9C

New Plymouth: Mainly fine. Strong, gusty southeasterlies. High 13C Low 8C

Wellington: Often cloudy. A few showers about the city and eastern suburbs. Strong southerlies, easing night. High 10C Low 8C

Christchurch: Partly cloudy. Northeast breezes. High 10C Low 1C

Dunedin: Fine. Northeasterlies. High 10C Low 5C