Weather: Gales, heavy rain to hit South Island

A warning has gone out to the public in the northern areas of Canterbury ahead of the expected severe weather forecast over the next two days.

Civil Defence has issued a warning against all fires with the expectation that winds gusts are going to get as high as they were in September 2013, when a windstorm caused damage and power outages in Canterbury.

Rural Fire officer Douglas Marshall says it is a perfect recipe for fire.

"Strong winds along with hot weather will create an extreme fire risk and fires will be difficult to control due to the extreme winds," he says.

Power outages in the area could also occur so authorities are urging the public to be prepared and drive with caution when driving at night.

'Batten down the hatches' - warning to West Coast

MetService has issued weather warnings for a majority of the country later in the week, but say the central area of New Zealand can expect "severe weather."

They say the expected weather is due to affect much of central New Zealand and around the Wellington area where they have issued a severe gale warning.

Wind gusts could be as strong as 160km/h in the capital while northern areas of the South Island can expect wind gusts of more than 100km/h.

'Bomb low' to hit South Island

Gales, heavy rain and overnight lows down to 4degC are forecast to hit the South Island on Tuesday, as a weather 'bomb' low heads across the Tasman for New Zealand.

While summer highs continue around most of the North Island, Metservice has issued a severe weather watch for Canterbury, Marlborough, Westland, Southland and Stewart Island.

The Kaikōura Coast especially could get severe gale strength winds and rain levels up to 70mm by mid-morning Tuesday.

On Wednesday severe winds are expected to hit Wellington,

"It's going to be a wild day tomorrow," particularly for the South Island and lower North Island, Metservice meteorologist Claire Flynn says. 

Heavy rain is also expected in the south of Westland and Fiordland.

A weather 'bomb' low is when a low pressure system deepens very rapidly in a short time, which can bring damaging winds and big buckets of rain.

The low could bring very rough weather to exposed parts of the South Island and lower North Island on Wednesday.

The mountain ranges around Buller and Westland could get torrential rain of up to 300mm in 24 hours, which may cause widespread flooding, slips and damage to roads.

Metservice warns the bad weather will affect anyone in the mountains, river users, tourists and those traveling on the roads.

It will also push overnight temperatures on Thursday and Friday back to single digits, with some areas dropping to 4 degC.