It's time to reach for the thermals as a chilly polar blast surges up the country bringing snow, rain, big seas and viciously strong winds.

MetService warns New Zealand is in for a stormy few days with rain and snow-laced gales buffeting many parts of the country as the latest wintry combo tracks overhead.

In its latest severe weather outlook the forecaster is warning of severe gales and heavy snow to relatively low levels on Wednesday and Thursday.

Snow is expected across Central Otago, Dunedin, Clutha, Southland and Fiordland while in the North Island, fresh falls will coat the central North Island high country and the hills of Hawke's Bay.

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For those making southern holiday trips, snowfall warnings have already been issued for the Crown Range and Milford roads with more passes expected to be affected. Snow is due to start falling in the far south this evening with blizzard-like conditions about South Island hills and ranges exposed to the southerly gales.

The forecaster is also warning of large sea swells likely in some coastal areas during the middle of the week.

Those in the south are also in store for some bitterly cold temperatures as vicious southerly winds blast the island.

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More gloomy wet weather is in store for the North Island today with wild winds and rain for much of the region and snow expected in the central parts of the country for the second time in seven days.

Gales are expected to hit coastal regions on the west and east on the island with strong wind watches in place for Taranaki, Waikato, Hawke's Bay and Tararua districts. While not under a watch Auckland is expected to be hit by strongly westerly gusts of 80 km/h.

Temperatures were expected to plummet in the north on Thursday as the chilly air mass bringing snow to the south blankets the North Island.

The good news is apart from pesky showers remaining in Southland and Wairarapa,
most of the wild weather clears up on Thursday, ushering in a fine, but crisp end to the week.