Severe weather warnings have been issued for Northland as Cyclone Pam heads towards New Zealand with severe rain and heavy gales expected this afternoon and tonight.

Reports indicate areas in the Far North have already been hit with gusts of 100km/h wind, while Metservice is warning they could reach 120km/h as the system heads south.

The worst of the weather is expected overnight tonight (Sunday) and early on Monday.

Metservice is predicting 80mm to 100 mm of rain could fall in the 18 hours between midday today and 6am Monday.

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Swells are expected to reach 8m in height.

While the region is still expected to be spared from the full impact of the cyclone it is still expected to be a significant event.

Far North lines company Top Energy is preparing for heavy rains and high winds with crews, vehicles and machinery on standby.

Civil Defence is warning Northlanders to take the usual precautions for strong winds and rain, including securing large heavy objects or anything that could be potentially dangerous.

Motorists should postpone any unnecessary travel from midday today until tomorrow morning, when the worst of the weather is expected to have past.