The rain has begun falling in drought-stricken areas today as a southerly moves its way up the country.

Thunderstorms are also in store for the East Coast, Gisborne and Manawatu, while the MetService is expecting the relatively sunny weather to continue in the days leading up to Christmas.

However, those in the rest of the North Island shouldn't get too excited as although there are showers forecast, they won't result in much, MetService meteorologist Amanda De Monte says, while a sunny weekend is on the cards.

Rain has already lashed much of the South Island today which is the result of several weak fronts cross the country.


"The good news is, it's falling into areas that have been quite dry over the last couple of months. The foothills of Canterbury will get about 40mm, otherwise Christchurch can expect to see about 10mm to 20mm range.

"Already [10.30am] Timaru has received 27mm so that's quite positive as far as balancing out the many weeks of dry spells."

The front will slowly make its way up the country this afternoon bringing a high possibility of thunderstorms to the Nelson and Marlborough ranges.

"The other major area is East Cape of the North Island near Gisborne and down through the ranges of Hawke's Bay."

Pockets around Manawatu and Palmerston North could also see some thunderstorms, she said.

Wellington will get showers but the city itself will miss most of the rain which will hang around the ranges.

Auckland will see some light showers overnight before they hit Northland tomorrow morning.

The weather would improve tomorrow with showers and rain clearing in the South Island, with Christchurch fine in the afternoon.

"There might be a risk of showers in Auckland tomorrow but it's nothing major or significant."

On Friday, another front will hit the lower South Island and Fiordland bringing heavy rain but it will weaken before "tearing itself apart as it moves north".

The weekend looked promising with more nice weather, she said.

Meanwhile, MetService has just released its monthly rural outlook.

It describes the recent run of dry weather as "abnormally early, and extremely significant" that has seen Westport and Hokitika record their longest summer dry spells on record 29 and 23 days in a row, respectively.

A dry day is defined as less than 1mm of rainfall.

Christchurch Airport also broke its all-time, any season, dry spell with 47 days.

Twelve days out from Christmas and although there are a few weak fronts due to arrive, it will continue to be relatively dry for most of the country except the southeast of the South Island.

"Low to modest rainfall totals are predicted in the lead up to Christmas, nationwide."


* Whangarei 25C
* Auckland 23C
* Hamilton 24C
* Tauranga 26C
* Wellington 20C
* Christchurch 17C
* Dunedin 14C
* Queenstown 16C