It will be a wild and wet start to the week for many this morning with heavy rain and thunderstorms battering parts of the North Island.

A cluster of hundreds of lightning strikes moved over parts of Taranaki about 3am rudely awakening many residents.

One New Plymouth resident told the Herald the lightning storm lasted for at least an hour.

"One strike appeared to hit near our home, as the whole house shook a second or two after a big flash that lit up the bedroom," the Vogeltown resident said.

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"The rain was incredibly heavy too - it was certainly one of the most impressive lightning storms I've seen."

Power is still out to 501 properties in Waitara, north of New Plymouth, due to the storm. Powerco estimated power to be restored by 10.14am.

MetService meteorologist Arno Dyason said Taranaki was under a thunderstorm watch until 9am, with potential for more thunderstorms and heavy rain until then.

It is a wet start to the week too in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and the East Cape down to Gisborne.

Bay of Plenty east of Whakatane, and Gisborne north of Ruatoria are under a heavy rain warning until 9am.

About 80mm rain has fallen there in the past 24 hours, and about 200mm over the weekend.

Wet but relatively warm weather is on the cards for most of the upper North Island, with showers and temperatures forecast in the low 20s.

Whangārei in for a high of 22C today and Auckland 21C.

The South Island's east coast is being battered this morning by strong easterlies bringing cooler temperatures and persistent showers, while the west coast is in for a fine day in the late teens.

The wet and wild weather is being driven by a broad low pressure system that has moved over the Tasman Sea from the Southern Ocean after bringing severe weather to southern parts of Australia.

It is expected to keep the moist north to northeast flow over much of the country on Tuesday, bringing rain or showers to many areas.

Wednesday and Thursday are also looking quite unsettled as the low tracks slowly over the North Island, and a cold front moves up the South Island.

The North Island's west coast is in for a wet week, especially around Taranaki, and so too the northwest of the South Island, including Nelson, Buller and the Marlborough Sounds.

The far south generally escapes most of the wet weather.

On Friday another front arrives in the South Island bringing a cooler southerly flow and heavy rain to the south and west, while a weak ridge forms over the North Island bringing slightly more settled weather.

Today's weather
• Whangārei

Low cloud and occasional drizzle, clearing to afternoon fine spells. Chance evening shower. Northerlies. 22C high, 14C overnight.

• Auckland

Occasional drizzle with possible low cloud or fog clearing to afternoon fine spells. Northeast breezes. 21C high, 15C overnight.

• Hamilton

Occasional drizzle with low cloud or fog, becoming mainly fine in the afternoon with chance shower. Northerlies. 21C high, 12C overnight.

• Tauranga

Rain, chance heavy, becoming fine in the morning. However, a few afternoon showers. Northerlies. 21C high, 14C overnight.

• New Plymouth

Rain with thunderstorms, easing to fine spells this morning. Easterlies. 19C high, 13C overnight.

• Napier

Cloudy. Drizzle at times. Southeasterlies. 19C high, 11C overnight.

• Wellington

Low cloud with patchy drizzle. Southerlies. 15C high, 12C overnight.

• Nelson

Cloudy periods. A few showers from evening. Northeast breezes. 18C high, 12C overnight.

• Christchurch

Occasional rain or drizzle. Easterlies. 13C high, 9C overnight.

• Dunedin

Cloudy periods. Northeasterlies. 14C high, 9C overnight.