Snow is falling in the central North Island for the first time this year and strong winds continue to lash both the North and South islands as a strong cold southwest flow drags freezing Antarctic air across the country.

MetService has issued a severe weather warning for Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Wellington, the Wairarapa and Marlborough, with winds expected to reach up to 120km/h in the middle of the country today.

MetService warned winds of this strength have the potential to lift roofs, topple power lines and trees and make driving hazardous.

But while the winds have been strong, little damage has so far been reported.

The Fire Service Northern Communications said crews have been called out to two downed trees and one downed power line in Auckland, while the Central and Southern communications said their regions' crews have had no weather related callouts.

Forecaster Gerard Barrow said winds around Wellington and Wairarapa were expected to have picked up from midday, while winds about the East Cape forecast to strengthen this afternoon and evening.

Rain is expected for the entire country - apart from the West Coast and Nelson - with heavy showers forecast across the North Island.

Meanwhile snow has fallen in parts of Southland and Otago down to 400m and the Southern Alps to 500m overnight.

Mt Ruapehu has received snow this morning as well.

MetService forecaster Oliver Druce says it has been snowing on the Desert Road for the last couple of hours.

"It has been snowing from around Waiouru and further up the Desert Road and there's probably a little bit lying on the ground although it's probably going to melt quite quickly," he says.

Snow showers have cleared on Lindis, Porters and Lewis passes and Milford Rd following earlier snowfall.

- NZ HERALD STAFF, NEWSTALK ZB