Cyclone Cook could be about to bring more heartache to flood-devastated parts of the country.
The category 3 cyclone was early this morning just south of New Caledonia, where it passed overnight and, according to overseas media, injured four and left thousands without power.
Cyclone tracks are changeable, but the latest models put eastern parts of the country in its path late this week - including a direct track over the East Cape.
The MetService has issued several severe weather warnings and alerts.
Heavy rain warnings have been issued for the following places: Buller and Westland, Northwest Nelson, Richmond and Bryant Ranges and Marlborough Sounds, Eastern Otago, Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Auckland, Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula.
A front is expected to bring periods of heavy rain to the north and west of the South Island, as well as Otago later today and early tomorrow. That will spread to the North Island by late tomorrow. The MetService said rain over parts of the North Island is forecast to continue through to Thursday and possible Good Friday.
"Rainfall accumulations could exceed 200mm over Bay of Plenty and Taupo over 48 hours from midday Wednesday, with lesser amounts in other areas.''
Severe weather watches are in place for Northland, Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Taranaki and Whanganui.
Heavy rain for north and west of the North Island, from Taranaki to Northland, is also on the cards.
"A low, moving southeast over the Tasman Sea, is expected to become slow-moving later today. It's associated front is expected to bring rain to many areas,'' MetService said.
"The remains of Tropical Cyclone Cook are likely to cross from Bay of Plenty to Hawke's Bay Thursday night or Friday night with further heavy rain, large swells and an area of damaging severe gales."
Metservice meteorologist Brian Mercer earlier said models were "starting to come together" for the cyclone.
"The track can change but we are currently expecting it will be just north of the Bay of Plenty midnight Thursday, then we expect it to move across the East Cape and then down the [North Island] East Coast and the East Coast of the South Island."
It was too early for numbers, but there was the potential for heavy rain and severe gales, Mercer said.
Severe gales are winds exceeding 76km/h.
The latest models are not good news for those living in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, where many residents of the flooded town of Edgecumbe remain unable to return home, and others living in rural areas are still cut off.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council's flood management team is now working with MetService meteorologists to understand how weather conditions over the next few days may mean for the people in the area.
Duty flood manager Peter Blackwood said: "With the information we currently have available, the bulk of the rain is going to arrive Thursday and it looks like coastal communities are going to be hit the worst.
"Severe gales are also predicted along the coast which will likely lead to storm surges and flooding of coastal margins.''
Blackwood said they were also working with Trustpower to lower the Matahina Dam to the lowest levels ever recorded.
"Our pumps along the Rangitaiki are also going full speed to remove water from flooded areas and there are ongoing inspections of the stop banks,'' he said.
"Outside of the eastern Bay, the Okere gates have been open for more than two weeks and are discharging flood water from Lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua at capacity.
"There are no further steps we can take to lower these lake levels and residents should expect some flooding around lake margins.''
The Chatham Islands are also at risk from the cyclone's impact, with severe northeasterly gales between late Thursday and Saturday, Mercer said.
In Wellington, gales can be expected between Friday and Saturday.
"[This cyclone] is definitely one to watch and we're encouraging people to keep an eye on our updates," Mercer said.
Other parts of the country can also expect a wet lead-up to the Easter long weekend.
There will be rain in Auckland over the next few days, but daytime highs will remain in the low 20s.
A mixture of showers and rain is expected across much of the upper North Island and the South Island's West Coast today, while Whanganui, Wairarapa and Wellington will also see a few spots of rain developing.
Thickening cloud is forecast for the rest of the South Island.
A Tasman Sea low previously been threatening to roll across the country would remain offshore this week. The power of Cyclone Cook was holding it away, Mercer said.