A warning to hunker down and drive with care, as gale force winds are about to batter Central Otago.

Metservice has released a severe weather warning has also been issued for heavy rain in the Marlborough Sounds, Tararua Ranges and Mt Taranaki.

The nightmare weather is due to hit late tonight, and is thanks to a cold front sweeping over the Tasman Sea, heading for the top of the South Island.

Police have already attended three crashes involving two caravans and a high sided truck being blown over in the wind on State Highway 73,and at Rakaia gorge.