Barbecues and beach visits are on for Christmas Day, with weather experts tipping mild, dry conditions.
Metservice weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said some forecasts suggested a sub-tropical depression could bring rain to northern and eastern parts of the North Island on Christmas Eve.
But fine weather was forecast for most of the country until Boxing Day. Thanks to an anticyclone there was a chance of light rain in the lower South Island early on Christmas morning.
Philip Duncan of www.weatherwatch.co.nz said winds coming mainly from the east and south east would keep temperatures down.
"It won't be scorching hot. Every forecast is pretty much showing cloud but I don't think it's going to be a miserable day."
Duncan's Christmas Day forecast was for a cool breeze over Wellington, Napier and Gisborne, with early wind in Hamilton expected to ease.
He forecast fine weather and clouds for Christchurch, with Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki and Nelson sunny and warm.
Temperatures would be mild, said Duncan, ranging from the late teens to early 20s in Auckland, Hamilton and the
east coast, but reaching the mid 20s in Palmerston North, Nelson and Blenheim.
Predictions for the post-Christmas holiday season are promising, with Duncan tipping long, dry spells for Hawke's Bay and Canterbury.
Holiday favourites such as the Bay of Islands are in for a hot January with the risk of a cyclone later in the month.
Taupo, Nelson and Queenstown are also expected to have a hot, dry summer.
With westerly winds, fears of a drought in the Waikato were unlikely to be unfounded, Duncan said, with emerging La Nina patterns expected to bring some rain.