Gusts of up to 140 kilometers an hour are expected in exposed parts of Canterbury today and weather watches are in place for many parts of the South Island.

MetService meteorologist Ciaran Doolin said a north westerly flow over the South Island was responsible for strong winds in several places.

MetService has weather watches and warnings in place for much of the South Island.

"The main issue of concern is the winds in various places," Mr Doolin said.

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Gales in Canterbury were expected to last until this afternoon.