It's time to batten down the hatches in lockdown: A mild, settled start to Easter will turn wet, and later cold, across the country from tonight.Parts of the South Island and Taranaki are in line for some of the early effects of the front and the MetService has issued a string of watches and warnings.
Orange-level heavy rain warnings are in place for much of the South Island's West Coast, as well as the Otago headwaters and the Canterbury headwaters, south of Arthurs Pass.
The rain is expected to arrive from between noon and 3pm in different areas, except in Fiordland and south Westland, where falls begin from 9am. The heavy falls will continue overnight everywhere except the Otago headwaters.
A heavy rain watch has also been issued for Buller and northwest Nelson, overnight from 6pm today, and there is a strong wind watch over the same period for coastal Buller and Westland, north of Okarito.
There's a strong wind watch for South Taranaki and coastal Nelson in the five hours from 10pm today.
Tomorrow "very cold southerlies" were expected but the full impact would be felt on Tuesday, particularly in the south, MetService duty meteorologist Kyle Lee said.
"We're expecting temperatures to drop quite dramatically. It'll feel pretty wintry in the South Island on Tuesday; it'll be barely above double digits in Southland, Dunedin and Central Otago."
Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill are heading for a paltry 11C on Tuesday. Alexandra will nudge 1C warmer, on 12C. It will be 14C in Christchurch.
Snow was also expected to fall to 600m in Central Otago tomorrow night.
Today would be mainly fine until rain arrived in the upper North Island after dark. Auckland and Hamilton have highs of 23C, Tauranga 21C and Wellington 18C today.
It would be wet throughout the island on Tuesday - good news for areas badly affected by drought this year, Lee said.
Another cold front was expected to move northeastwards over the South Island on Wednesday, then across the North Island the following day, followed by another ridge.
But severe weather wasn't expected with this front.