An Auckland school has been flooded as a front moves slowly across the upper North Island dumping heavy rain as it goes.

Brookby School posted photos of the flooded school grounds to social media, with a message that parents could keep their children home if they could not make it through.

"At this point it may be very difficult for your children to get into the school grounds if they are not already here," the school said.

"The school is open for those children that are here. It is up to parents whether you are wanting to wade through the water to come and collect your children.

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Parents have been told they can keep their children home today if they can't make it through the floodwaters. Photo / Brookby School
Parents have been told they can keep their children home today if they can't make it through the floodwaters. Photo / Brookby School

"They are all fine."

Auckland motorists are being warned of "very poor" driving conditions as the city is battered by heavy rain.

The NZ Transport Agency said the weather conditions were affecting all Auckland routes after an early morning deluge today.

Motorists were advised to slow down, increase following distance and keep lights on.

The heavy rain would continue in Auckland and Northland through the morning before spreading east across the North Island through the day.

MetService duty meteorologist Fulong Lu said the front had arrived from the Tasman Sea, and was expected to move east across northern and central New Zealand today.

At 4am, 20-30mm of rain had been recorded in many areas of Northland and Auckland, with downpours of up to 15mm an hour.

Flooding at Brookby School in Auckland this morning. Photo / Brookby School
Flooding at Brookby School in Auckland this morning. Photo / Brookby School

This would continue to the early afternoon with Auckland, including Great Barrier Island, and Coromandel Peninsula under a heavy rain watch.

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There were also strong winds preceding the front, with a gust of 96km/h recorded on the Tutukaka Coast this morning.

Auckland was forecast to become fine with light winds by late afternoon.

The front was forecast to stall over Bay of Plenty Thursday, with a deep low forming to the north.

Bay of Plenty and Rotorua were under a heavy rain watch from 6am today to 1am Friday. The heaviest rain was forecast to fall on Thursday.

The front was forecast to reach parts of the East Cape by 6pm tonight, with a heavy rain watch in force for Gisborne north of Tokomaru Bay to 1am Friday.

There was a moderate risk of a few thunderstorms over central North Island areas from Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty down to Manawatū during the afternoon.

A broad area of low risk covered parts of the North Island south of Auckland and north of Wellington during the afternoon, and eastern Bay of Plenty and the northern Gisborne ranges.

Any thunderstorms would be accompanied by localised heavy rain of 10-25mm/h, with a low risk of one or two small tornadoes (or funnel clouds) associated with the afternoon thunderstorms about the central North Island.

A low on the front was expected to move on to the upper South Island Wednesday morning, bringing east to northeast gales to western Nelson, Buller and northern Westland. There was also a low risk of thunderstorms during Wednesday afternoon.

Nelson, west of about Motueka, was under a heavy rain watch to 1pm.

Meanwhile some of the South Island's alpine passes were in for a dusting of snow overnight.

Road snow warnings were in place to 11am for Milford Rd (State Highway 94) and the Crown Range Rd.

The front and low would move slowly south and lie to the southeast of central New Zealand by late Friday, spreading rain to most of the North Island.

On Saturday a narrow ridge was forecast to move on to New Zealand from the Tasman bringing settled weather.

This was followed by an active trough late Sunday bringing periods of rain to southern Westland and Fiordland.

Today's weather

Whangārei

Rain, briefly heavy and chance thunderstorm, becoming fine in the morning as northeasterlies turn light westerly. 19C high, 7C overnight.

Auckland

​ Rain and strong northeasterlies, chance localised downpours and thunderstorms, becoming fine with light winds from afternoon. 18C high, 8C overnight.

Hamilton

Periods of rain, with possible downpours and thunderstorms, clearing afternoon. Brisk northeasterlies dying out afternoon. 17C high, 7C overnight.

Tauranga

Rain, with possible downpours and thunderstorms until evening. Brisk northeasterlies. 16C high, 9C overnight.

New Plymouth Rain, with a thundery downpour possible, becoming fine late morning. Northerlies, strong at first, dying out evening. 15C high, 6C overnight.

Napier Cloudy. Occasional rain developing late morning, easing evening. Northeasterlies. 17C high, 7C overnight.

Whanganui​ Occasional rain, with heavy falls and thunderstorms possible in the afternoon, clearing in the evening. Northeast dying out. 19C high, 6C overnight.

Wellington Periods of rain developing morning, clearing afternoon. Northerlies, strong for a time around midday. 15C high, 9C overnight.

Nelson Rain, possibly heavy, clearing to fine in the afternoon as strong northeasterlies ease. 15C high, 5C overnight.

Christchurch Drizzle, turning to rain late morning, clearing and becoming fine by evening as northeasterlies turn northwest. 12C high, 2C overnight.

Dunedin Drizzle, turning to rain in the afternoon. Brisk northeasterlies turning lighter northwest evening. 11C high, 7C overnight.