The first Saturday of summer has seen parts of New Zealand bask in temperatures not usually seen so early.

Temperatures near Christchurch were expected to reach 34 degrees today - much higher than the summer average of 21 degrees. head weather analyst Philip Duncan said it was the third weekend in a row with daytime highs above their norm for this time of the year.

Some parts of Canterbury have not had rain for a month but downpours yesterday helped some areas inland, he said.


The sunshine in New Zealand is in stark contrast to weather in Australia, which has seen a stormy start to summer with thousands of lightning strikes.

Townships were evacuated as torrential rain lashed Victoria last night.

Residents were warned on Saturday would be worse but New Zealand has had no severe weather warnings.

Metservice reported there is still a moderate chance for isolated showers in Auckland and Hamilton this afternoon with highs of around 23 degrees.

The central North Island areas of Waikato, Taupo, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taihape, Manawatu and Tararua had a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms this afternoon.

"It will be a similar story as what we have had in the past couple of days," said Kyle Lee of Metservice.

Meanwhile, townships in Australia have been evacuated because of heavy downpours.

Torrential rain lashed Victoria last night and residents were warned today would be worse.


Despite the weather in Melbourne all flights arriving into the city from New Zealand were expected to arrive on time.