It's set to be a mainly fine weekend for the country but forecasters say it's the calm before the storm as Cyclone Gita makes its way to New Zealand.

MetService meteorologist Amy Rossiter said Gita was set to bring severe weather to the North Island and top of the South Island from Tuesday, by which time it would be an ex-tropical cyclone.

Although risk areas were yet to be identified, MetService has urged people to prepare for severe gales and heavy rain.

Now is the time to soak up some sunshine with a mainly fine weekend expected for the North Island, apart from a few cloudy periods and light showers mainly in the north and west.


There was also the chance of a shower in Auckland today. But, the good news is, the weather was set to dry up for tonight's Pride Parade, which kicks off at 7.30pm on Ponsonby Rd.

Fine weather would come as good news for parade organisers after the annual Big Gay Out was cancelled last Saturday due to heavy rain.

Meanwhile, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay were in for a cracker of a day with temperatures set to hit 32C in Napier and Hastings.

Things were not looking too flash in the west of the South Island where several fronts, moving up the country, were causing heavy rain and thunderstorms.

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for Buller, Westland and Canterbury High Country.

MetService warned thunderstorms could cause frequent lightning and downpours of between 25mm and 40mm an hour, especially about the mountains, until 2pm today.

Rainfall of this intensity could cause surface flooding and flash flooding - especially in low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valley - slips and make driving conditions hazardous.

Severe weather warnings for heavy rain were in also in place for Westland, between Fox Glacier and Haast, until 11am and north of Fox Glacier until 2pm today.

According to MetService, up to 150mm of rain was expected to accumulate north of Fox Glacier, with peak rates of between 20 and 35mm per hour this morning.

Up to 100mm of rain was set to accumulate by 11am between Fox Glacier and Haast.


There was also a heavy rain watch for Buller and the headwaters of Canterbury Rivers and Lakes through to this afternoon.

The wet weather was set to ease in the South Island tomorrow.

Rossiter said Sunday was expected to be cloudy with a bit of rain "but not like today".