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The Metservice has issued a severe weather warning, as gales and large ocean swells are expected to batter much of the country.
Civil Defence in Auckland is advising people to stay away from beaches over the next 72 hours, with a run of nasty weather on track to hit the region.
Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group spokesman Harry O'Rourke says the size of the swells forecasted are likely to create confused and dangerous sea conditions.
He says all boaties should reassess their plans.
Meanwhile, it seems much of the country is in for a battering.
Metservice has issued a severe weather warning for Fiordland, Westland, Canterbury, Otago, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough and Southland.
Heavy rain in Fiordland and the Southern Alps is expected to turn to heavy snow tomorrow.
Heavy rain is also on the cards for eastern Bay of Plenty today.
Northwesterlies are expected to rise to severe gale about Wellington, Wairarapa and the Marlborough Sounds tomorrow morning.
The source of the severe weather is an enormous, deep low-pressure system churning far to the south of Invercargill and sending a series of fronts sweeping across the country.
MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said yesterday that the Roaring Forties, a band of strong westerly winds, were expected to move temporarily north into the Tasman Sea.
"So we are going to have some wild and windy weather over the next few days. Particularly the west coasts [of the country's islands] are likely to get humungous swells from the Roaring Forties as they move in, particularly during Friday and Saturday."
Philip Duncan, of the WeatherWatch website, said the low was currently one of the largest storms on the planet, "covering an area the size of Australia" and with a central pressure that had sunk to around 950 hectopascals.
MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft said a gradual change to bitterly cold conditions was likely to spread on to the south from late tomorrow and this might bring snow to low levels.
Near-zero wind-chill conditions were likely to cause stress to vulnerable farm animals.
- NZ Herald staff, Newstalk ZB