Wintry conditions are set to spoil the weekend bringing rain, gusty westerlies and even snow to parts of the South Island.

The country is entering an "active" weather pattern, with a series of southerly fronts moving up the country over the next few days, MetService meteorologist Nick Zachar said.

One on Sunday is forecast to drop temperatures to freezing levels from Canterbury south, bringing snow down to 500m in places.

A cheeky few cm overnight & the official start of snowmaking for 2018... GAME ON!! 🎉❄️😱 📷: Hamish Wade Mackay

Posted by Cardrona Alpine Resort, NZ on Wednesday, 16 May 2018

But before then Friday is looking to be a relatively fine day, apart from the South Island's west coast.

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Most areas will take a little while to warm up after a relatively chilly night.

Auckland dropped as low as 7C in Albany, but will heat up for a relatively fine day and a high of 18C.

Similar weather is on the cards for much of the rest of the North Island, with only Wellington in for a tough time with some gusty northerlies.

Westerlies affecting the North Island and the western South Island! The current state of New Zealand can be seen in the...

Posted by MetService New Zealand on Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Out east Gisborne and Napier continue their fine runs, with sunny conditions, warm northwesterlies and highs of 20C forecast. Much of the same is forecast there over the next several days too.

It will take the South Island even longer to warm up this morning after a freezing night for some.

Ashburton was the coolest at 0.6C, and Dunedin and Oamaru both hit a frigid 1.7C.

The east coast will warm for a relatively fine day though, with temperatures in the mid teens.

Later today a band of rain stretches up the country's west coast, Zachar said.

"From Fiordland to Northland we can expect at least a few showers today," Zachar said.

The heaviest rain is expected on the South Island's west coast, with a weather watch in place for Buller to 1am tomorrow.

The Tararua Range north of Wellington could also see some heavy rain through to 3pm tomorrow.

From tomorrow the "unsettled" period sets in, with no signs of slowing down.

"We are entering a very active weather pattern," Zachar said.

A series of fast moving fronts are expected to bring periods of heavy rain to the west and strong west to northwest winds to southern and eastern areas.

The rain tonight and tomorrow is coming from a slow-moving front sitting over central New Zealand.

It is forecast to move slowly north on Saturday morning, bringing rain to the upper North Island, especially around Auckland, Rotorua and Taupō.

It should clear quickly overnight Saturday, but on Sunday another front moves on to the country bringing decent amounts of rain to western areas.

Another active front is forecast on Tuesday, but will weaken as it moves north.

On Wednesday an even larger southerly front is due to move on to New Zealand, dropping temperatures even further, Zachar said.

Today's weather
• Whangārei

Long sunny spells, but one or two early showers. Southwest turning light northwest evening. 19C high, 10C overnight.

• Auckland

Mainly fine, apart from isolated showers, clearing early afternoon. Southwest turning light northwest evening. 18C high, 12C overnight.

• Hamilton

Cloudy periods with one or two showers. Westerly breezes. 17C high, 9C overnight.

• Tauranga

Some cloud morning and night, otherwise fine. Westerlies. 18C high, 11C overnight.

• New Plymouth

Cloudy periods with a few showers. Westerlies turning stronger northwest in the evening. 17C high, 13C overnight.

• Napier

Fine apart from some high cloud. Northwesterlies. 20C high, 11C overnight.

• Wellington

Fine with high cloud. A few showers at night. Gusty northerlies, strong in exposed places. 15C high, 12C overnight.

• Nelson

Cloud increasing afternoon with chance shower, then evening rain. Northerly breezes.16C high 9C overnight.

• Christchurch

Fine with high cloud. Northeast breezes. 16C high, 3C overnight.

• Dunedin

Fine with high cloud. Westerly breezes. 13C high, 6C overnight.