Sunshine makes a welcome return for many this weekend following a few days of rough winter weather before another cold change sets in next week.

There will be a lull in the rough winter weather many have experienced lately over the weekend before another cold change sets in.

Storm-force gales battered central New Zealand in the last day or so, with wild winds bringing down trees and powerlines in Wellington.

Elsewhere, an 11m wave was recorded off the South Island coast and heavy snow fell in the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges.

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Large waves rolling into Owhiro Bay on Wellington's south coast. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Large waves rolling into Owhiro Bay on Wellington's south coast. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A high-pressure system will slide across the nation later today, though, offering a brief respite from the wintery weather.

"There's been a big weather system that's been affecting the country for quite a few days, that's pulling away to the east," MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said.

"The last lingering effects of that are going through Wellington and up the east coast of the North Island.

"That is already on an easing trend but if they haven't finished they're due to finish in the next few hours."

For many, while the mornings will be cold over the next few days, the weekend will bring mostly fine weather.

Rug up overnight, because while most towns and cities see sunshine tomorrow it will come at a price of a frosty start to the morning.

Alexandra in Central Otago is expected to drop to -4C in the early hours of Friday, with Invercargill to reach -3C.

However, the next band of bad weather should arrive tomorrow evening, first impacting the Hokitika area of the South Island's west coast.

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Cloud and northwesterly winds would develop on Saturday down south too, with rain setting in on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, in the North Island, the weather is expected to remain settled until late Sunday but showers will arrive by the end of the weekend.

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"I should stress that the weekend as a whole is looking pretty good, it all just turns to custard when you get to Sunday night," Adams said.

"Auckland, in particular, is looking at a nice weekend, the cloud and rain doesn't come back until late in the day on Sunday.

"It should be good news for people going to watch the rugby in Hamilton on Sunday but it'll be a little bit touch and go there."

Debris dumped by large waves rolling into Owhiro Bay on Wellington's south coast. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Debris dumped by large waves rolling into Owhiro Bay on Wellington's south coast. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Strong northerly winds are also expected on Sunday night for those in the north, with the risk of heavy rain about Bay of Plenty, Nelson and the West Coast too.

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Apart from the west coast of the South Island, Friday should be a generally nice day for everyone and the cloud won't start to hang over until Saturday.

The sun won't disappear behind another nasty weather system until Sunday for those in the North Island, meanwhile.

The weather system which arrives from the west will move away by around Tuesday before the mercury starts to drop, Adams said.

"We go back into the colder, showery, southerly regime again," he said.

There is good news, however, for those heading into the school holidays who love to hit the slopes for some skiing.

The recent southerlies dropped a good amount of snow to Ruapehu and the Canterbury ski fields, with the Southern Lakes set for half a metre of snow over the weekend.

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"Winter is most definitely here, but by checking the latest forecasts from MetService there is no reason not to get out and enjoy it," Adams said.

Friday weather forecast

Whangārei: Cloudy periods. Light winds. High 14C, Low 6C.

Auckland: Cloudy periods. Southwesterly breezes. 13C, 7C.

Tauranga: Fine. Early frosts possible. Southwesterlies dying out in the afternoon. 13C, 4C.

Hamilton: Fine with morning frost, then cloudy periods developing in the afternoon. Light winds. 12C, 1C.

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New Plymouth: A fine morning with early frosts, then cloudy periods. Light winds. 13C, 5C.

Napier: Cloudy periods and a possible morning shower, then fine from afternoon. Southwesterlies easing in the morning. 13C, 0C.

Wellington: Cloudy periods, then fine from afternoon. Light winds. 10C, 5C.

Christchurch: Morning cloud, then fine. Southerlies dying out morning, then northerlies developing evening. 10C, 1C.

Queenstown: Fine and frosty at first. Cloud from afternoon, then some late rain. Northerlies developing evening. 9C, 2C.

Dunedin: Fine, high cloud from evening. Northeasterlies developing afternoon. 9C, 6C.

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Invercargill: Fine with morning frosts. Cloud increasing in the evening. Northerlies. 8C, 2C.