I went for my first run last night since daylight savings ended - wow, what a difference a week can make. The street lights came on and the air was so cold I barely made a sweat. A week ago I had to stop half way in to it because the heat was so intense. A week makes a big difference in April and in this week's case 24 hours made a difference. A southerly blast that's going to have an impact on our Easter Weekend arrived in the South Island yesterday with snow falling around Canterbury to quite low levels and affecting alpine passes further up. Invercargill was lashed with severe hailstorms that turned the green grass white and temperatures took a pounding, dropping to just around 5 degrees at noon in parts of Southland and in Dunedin. The wind chill effect would've shaved that back into the negatives.

It was winter yesterday evening in Gore and Invercargill where temperatures were around just 3 to 6 degrees accompanied by heavy showers. The heaters and fires will be on in Southland this morning too.

In the North Island the start of that cooling has begun with temperatures taking a bit of a hit yesterday but the rain would've been welcome to those that got it. I had to water my garden a few nights ago and it just felt so weird to do it in April. I'm sure I've done it before at this time of year but it did feel strange. Snow will fall to low levels around Central Plateau today as more fronts pass through. There could well be some pretty heavy falls around the North Island with isolated thunderstorms too, but before you stress about the long weekend you can relax...because at midnight the magic happens and our Easter anticyclone quickly moves in from the Tasman Sea.

I said at the beginning this cold blast would impact our long weekend. How? Quite simple really...the winter air that's sitting over the country will be "locked in" by the incoming high. In particular inland areas and valleys will be most affected as that cold air sinks and stays put. That means the f word - frosts. From Southland right up the South Island to sheltered areas around Wellington, Masterton and Kapiti and as far north as Waikato. In fact, even sheltered places around Auckland such as Whenuapai and Kumeu might see a very light frost on Friday morning. A crisp way to kick of Easter Weekend.

Daytime highs wont be too bad though, just that southerly might hack away a few degrees if you're in the wind. Warmest places will most likely be eastern parts of Northland (Bay of Islands), eastern Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay (although those last two may be a bit chilly on Friday) with daytime highs around the lower 20s. Most other places, apart from Friday when it will be colder, should be in the late teens with mid teens in Canterbury and lower teens - if that - in coastal Otago and Southland. Cold nights right across the country.

The high moving in should give most New Zealanders a pretty good holiday weekend - especially if you're in the more popular holiday spots. This high is another big one and will bring sunny, dry, weather to eastern areas for at least 5 to 7 days, while western areas will have a mix of sun and cloud over the next 5 days. Some of our computer models are showing a little bit of instability on Sunday which may produce a light shower in the west from Taranaki to Northland, including Auckland, along that west coast...but I have my doubts on the accuracy of that forecast. Even if it does come true I'm of the mind that it'll be pretty insignificant and wont ruin the Easter egg hunt. I hope that even at my age the Easter bunny will still visit me...I'm a sucker for chocolate.

As with all national holiday weekends the Weather Watch Centre has created a special travel forecast for road, air and sea. It rates your travel conditions as poor, moderate or good - check it out here.

Plus, don't forget our detailed (and independent) Easter Weekend forecast which covers sky conditions, wind directions and temperatures in your holiday destination right across this long weekend. Click here. We'll continue to update it throughout the weekend too.

Have a fantastic Easter...I hope the Easter bunny visits...I know Jack Frost will.

Philip Duncan


Photo / Christchurch Star end forecolor