Gale-force winds of up to 120 km/h are expected in Wellington and parts of the South Island later today as a cold front moves up the country.

Despite a perfectly calm morning in Auckland, the Meteorological Service has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rain all day in Fiordland and South Westland and for strong winds all day in Southland, from 11am in Fiordland, from 1pm in the Canterbury high country and from 5pm in Marlborough and Wellington.

Gusts of up to 120 km/h are forecast for Southland, Fiordland, Marlborough and Wellington, with up to 130 km/h in the Canterbury high country.

Meteorologist April Clark said the pattern was "pretty typical for winter" and was unlikely to close major airports, but warned people against taking risks.

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"The most severe weather will be in the high country, so it's more for people who think it's a good idea to go up to the mountains - which it's not," she said.

"We do have a front moving over the South Island today bringing heavy rain pretty much only for the west of the Alps.

"We are expecting strong northwest winds behind that, which are usually more severe east of the Alps. The places to look out for are pretty much the whole of the South Island."

Only a few showers are expected in the northern part of the North Island today, but they are forecast to turn into heavy rain tonight and tomorrow morning as the front moves north.

Showers are expected to follow behind the front, with conditions easing in the South Island in the morning and in the North Island in the afternoon, with rain persisting only in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.

More showery weather is expected on Monday and Tuesday.