Severe weather warnings for western areas as powerful front rolls up country.

Skiers heading south will be happy to know the fields will be packed with fresh snow over the next few days.

Large amounts of snow fell over Coronet Park and The Remarkables on Wednesday night and yesterday and more is expected today.

The Coronet Peak had a 45cm snow base at the top of the mountain yesterday, while The Remarkables had about a 60cm base.

Spokesman for the latter, Ross Lawrence, said people were "absolutely fizzing" about the conditions.


Ross Copland, ski manager for Coronet Peak, said now was the perfect time to make most of your ski gear.

"Get on up here, get some wax on your skis or board and get out and enjoy it," he said. "It's shaping up to be a cracker of a few days' skiing - with more snow to come."

Several severe weather warnings and watches were issued by MetService yesterday, including heavy rain for the west of the South Island last night and through to today.

Wintry weather may bring misery to some, but to the South Island skifields it can't come soon enough

A front is due to cross the South Island this morning and the North Island this afternoon and later this evening. Northwest gales and a burst of heavy rain for western parts of both islands are forecast. Up to 100 to 130mm of rain was expected overnight and this morning in Westland. Police in Hawke's Bay last night issued a warning to motorists to take care as strong winds spilled debris onto a part of State Highway 2, near Te Aute Hotel, when a tree fell.

Showers will gradually clear tomorrow. The South Island will get showers in the west and south. Other parts of the country will be mostly fine.

MetService meteorologist Emma Blades said the weather would feel more wintry over the next few days.

"The cold flow is expected to bring showers to many places, with snow flurries down to 500m in Otago and the far South [tomorrow] morning. This looks to be the main weather pattern through next week as well, so it's certainly going to feel very wintry with changeable conditions."

For the next week and a half, the roaring forties, a belt of wind that wraps around the lower Southern Hemisphere, would cross New Zealand, Weather Watch head analyst Philip Duncan said, hitting areas in the lower North Island and South Island, including Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington and Canterbury.

"Across the next week we're going to see this belt of wind crossing New Zealand, lifting north of the forties latitude around Wanganui and fanning out as far north as the sub-tropics," said Duncan. "At times it will swing more southerly and tap into colder air around Antarctica, lifting it up across New Zealand."