Weather: Cold start to the day, but warmer temperatures and sunny skies forecast for most

Temperatures in some parts of New Zealand fell to as low as -9C today, the curtainraiser to a polar blast storm set to strike the country.

It’s the coldest morning of the year for parts of the South Island with temperatures plunging below zero in a number of places. Mackenzie Country weather enthusiast Jordan Langley said he recorded temperatures in Fairlie of -9.7C at 6.15am on Wednesday.

Lake Tekapo was sitting on -8C and during the middle of Tuesday night Twizel saw as low as -7.5C and Omarama saw -8C, he said.

Aucklanders woke up to about 9C just after 8am. But it felt more like 7C and needing “three layers and one windproof” of clothing outside.

The chilly start to the day made way for sunny skies and warmer temperatures later but the those conditions won’t last, with a storm set to hit this weekend that will bring heavy and strong winds.

Heavy snow, rain and strong winds are likely to smash the South Island as a “large and complex low pressure system” heads towards the country.

“We do have another game-changer on the way and it is quite a significant system,” WeatherWatch warns.

“We’ve got two different significant systems to talk about; one is that low up to the northeast of New Zealand, and the second one is the bigger low coming in for this weekend.”

But while a wintry blast is expected to hit the eastern coast, there could be other areas that bask in sunshine due to the severity of the storm.

Usually bearing the brunt of any storm, the West Coast is set to be among the driest areas for the next seven days, according to Philip Duncan of WeatherWatch.

It is still too early to specify exactly where the weather will hit, but “early indications” did show up to 40cm of heavy snow landing on the Southern Alps and Alpine Highways this weekend, he said.

In the Coromandel, the king tide is to begin hitting the region tonight and area civil defence controller Garry Towler says they’re bracing for big waves.

Diggers and bobcats will be at the ready to help lessen the impact of the larger-than-normal swell set to batter areas, including Whitianga.

Towler said the large swells are forecast to hang around until about Saturday but they were ready for it.

“Really, we’re just going to be business as usual. Over the next few days we don’t anticipate any risk to people or property.”

As for the weekend’s storm, Duncan said there could be between 1cm to 5cm of snow falling on the Canterbury plains, above a couple of hundred metres altitude.

The south to southwest flow will see Canterbury hardest hit by rain too, with early estimates of between 70mm and 90mm through inland areas, including Darfield.

“This rain, if it does eventuate, will be very welcome in the dry region,” Duncan said.

As the North Island has milder westerlies at the end of the week – after a gusty few days – it will be the South Island’s turn by Sunday, with the strong winds battering eastern Australia likely to be felt here by then.

Frigid start

It’s the coldest morning of the year for parts of the South Island with temperatures plunging below zero in a number of places.

Mackenzie Country weather enthusiast Jordan Langley said he recorded temperatures in Fairlie of -9.7C at 6.15am on Wednesday.

Lake Tekapo was sitting on -8C and during the middle of Tuesday night Twizel saw as low as -7.5C and Omarama saw -8C, he said.

Aucklanders woke up to about 9C just after 8am. But it felt more like 7C and needing “three layers and one windproof” of clothing outside.

A partly cloudy day and a high of 17C is expected in the City of Sails. An overnight low of 7C will mean another blanket or two.

It was an even colder morning in Hamilton – with the temperature feeling about 4C outside, the MetService said, just before 9am.

But locals will be happy to know a high of 16C and fine weather conditions are on the cards.

Northland, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Taupō and Taihape are all in for cloudy periods that will increase throughout the day.

A few showers are expected for Great Barrier Island and eastern parts of Northland and Coromandel Peninsula, however.

Those in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay can expect a mostly cloudy day with occasional showers. Southeasterly winds are also set to be strong in exposed areas.

General fine weather is forecast from Waikato to Wellington – including in Waitomo and Taumarunui.

Further south, all of the South Island – except for Fiordland – is set to be fine. But there will be areas of morning cloud or fog.

People in Fiordland will be happy to see fine conditions at first, with a few patches of fog.

But cloudy periods will spread from the west from this afternoon and drizzle will start about the fiords later tonight.

additional reporting: Belinda Feek

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