Winter is here, New Zealand.

No matter where you were in the country last night, you would have experienced the intense burst of thunderstorms.

MetService recorded more than 600 lightning strikes across the country between 7pm last night and 7am this morning.

Duty forecaster Larissa Marintchenko said the areas most affected were Whanganui-Manawatu, Kapiti Coast and Auckland.

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The thunderstorms, which came off the Tasman Sea at around 7pm yesterday, pelted West Auckland with larger than normal hail.

WeatherWatch.co.nz reported large hail, which was caused by towering clouds crossing the city with thunderstorms, slamming West Auckland suburbs as it came off the sea and crossed over the Waitakere Ranges.

In the 12 hours to 7am today, MetService had recorded 5mm to 7mm of rainfall across the Auckland region. Some areas recorded up to 15mm.

However, that's nothing compared to the Canterbury region which had 50mm of rainfall in the same period.

More isolated thunderstorms and hail are possible over the next 24 hours in Auckland and in most main centres across New Zealand as the main polar blast moves in.

Marintchenko said temperatures were expected to drop to new lows below 0C tonight in the South Island.

Last night temperatures dropped to 4C in the South Island and 10C in the North Island, she said.

In the South Island, Cardrona Alpine Resort has officially opened its doors but at this stage only for gondola rides and sledging.

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Brrrrrrr she's a cold day to start the winter at Queenstown's Cardrona ski field. Photo / Supplied
Brrrrrrr she's a cold day to start the winter at Queenstown's Cardrona ski field. Photo / Supplied

It is expected to be open to skiers and snowboarders later in the week when the new snow has been groomed.

Cardrona Alpine Resort communications executive Jen Houltham said they had 10cm of new snow last night and it was still falling this morning.

"It's like winter has just flicked on the switch."

'Brass monkey' weather

Dunedin police have sounded the alarm as "brass monkey" weather creates a perfect storm for carnage on the roads this holiday weekend.

"That extra 20kmh over the limit is only going to get you to the next car ahead of you faster," Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said.

"Passing lanes aren't drag strips.

"We don't want to be telling your loved ones you aren't coming home again."

Murky and rainy conditions in some parts of the South and the large number of motorcycles on the roads for the Brass Monkey Rally could create a perfect storm for crashes, and police would be out in force this weekend, Snr Sgt Dinnissen said.

"Plan for a long trip home. If you're running late, just be late."

Queenstown's Cardona ski field has officially opened its doors today. Photo / Supplied
Queenstown's Cardona ski field has officially opened its doors today. Photo / Supplied

Your weather today

Northland, Auckland, Waikato & Bay Of Plenty

Showers with some heavy hail and thunder. In the eastern parts of the Bay Of Plenty there may be some sun, but showers will likely push through at times and there is a chance of small hail. Blustery west to southwesterly winds.
Highs: 13-15C

Western North Island (including Central North Island)

Showers with hail move through late afternoon / evening as the northwesterly changes southwest. Snow flurries likely about higher parts of the Central Plateau from afternoon. Conditions ease at night.
Highs: 5-13C

Eastern North Island

Mostly sunny with breezy west to northwesterly winds, some rain for southern Wairarapa. This rain spreads further north into Wairarapa in the afternoon as southwesterly winds strengthen, and gales are likely about the coast. In Hawke's Bay and Gisborne cloud increases in the evening and winds tend more southwest.
Highs: 12-16C

Wellington
Areas of rain, heavy at times with small hail especially afternoon as westerlies change strong to gale southerly.
High: 11C

Marlborough & Nelson

Showers, clearing in the afternoon but staying mostly cloudy. Fresh southwester, strong to gale-force winds about eastern coastal Marlborough.
Highs: 10-12

Canterbury

Morning rain, possibly heavy then easing afternoon to showers with a risk of small hail and snow flurries lowering to 500m. Fresh cold southwesterlies, strong to gale about Banks Peninsula in the morning then easing.
Highs: 6-8

West Coast

Mostly sunny for South Westland, North Westland sees some rain or showers then clearing early afternoon. Winds cool from the south.
Highs: 10-13

Southland & Otago

Showers about Southland with small hail possible and snow flurries to 300m by midday. Otago has a dry morning with some sun possible, showers and a risk of small hail moves in late morning with snow flurries possible to 300m by evening. Fresh cold south to southwesterly winds. Conditions ease at night for Southland and Central Otago.
Highs: 6-8C