Batten down the hatches is the call from weather forecasters because this weekend is going to be a wild one.

A "significant" front will make its way up the South Island today before reaching the North Island tomorrow bringing with it gale winds in places and torrential rain. Few places will be dry after it's done.

A front that swept up the North Island yesterday bringing a minor tornado to Taranaki and wind and rain to Auckland would look minor compared to what was in store on Sunday, MetService meteorologist Andrew James said.

"We are in for a quite a busy few days weather-wise.

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"A new, more significant front, has moved onto the South Island, and will move over the whole country over the weekend."

Auckland was in for a relatively fine Saturday with a high of 17C, before it would all turn to custard on Sunday about midday when wicked winds and heavy rain would kick in.

The hardest-hit places will be Fiordland, the Canterbury lake and river headwaters and Westland south of Otira, where heavy rain warnings are in place to Sunday morning with more than 100mm of rain forecast. There was also a moderate risk of thunderstorms in these areas.

The heavy rain could cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly, and lead to surface flooding and slips causing hazardous driving conditions.

Gale northwesterlies were forecast for parts of the South Island high country today and into the early hours of Sunday.

As the front moved north overnight Saturday, heavy rain would spread to Nelson, Buller and north Westland, before crossing the Cook Strait and dousing the Tararua Range and Taranaki to about 2pm Sunday.

Gale northwesterlies could also hit Marlborough and Wellington until about 1pm Sunday.

James said similar "unsettled" weather could be expected into next week.

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"We've shifted into an unsettled pattern, with another feature arriving on Tuesday. We can expected rain to on and off for a little while."

Today's weather

Whangārei

Fine, evening cloud. Northerly breezes. 19C high, 13C overnight.

Auckland

Fine, apart from isolated morning and evening showers. Northwest breezes. 17C high, 12C overnight.

Hamilton

Cloudy periods, chance shower. Northerly breezes. 17C high, 10C overnight.

Tauranga

Cloudy periods. Northwest breezes. 17C high, 10C overnight.

New Plymouth Cloudy periods and one or two showers. Northwesterlies. 16C high, 12C overnight.

Napier Fine. Northwesterlies. 19C high, 11C overnight.

Whanganui Mostly cloudy, morning shower or two. Northwesterlies. 17C high, 11C overnight.

Wellington Fine, then showers developing this evening. Northerlies strengthening. 14C high, 11C overnight.

Nelson Fine with high cloud, then showers towards evening. Northerlies strengthening. 15C high, 11C overnight.

Christchurch High cloud at times. Northeasterlies strengthening. 16C high, 9C overnight.

Dunedin Cloudy at times, a few spots late rain. Northeasterlies. 14C high, 8C overnight.