7000 lightning strikes, heavy snow overnight as winter approaches

Lightning in Tauranga on Thursday night.
Lightning in Tauranga on Thursday night. Photo credit: Supplied / Sarah Walker

The North Island was hit with 7000 lightning strikes overnight, but there's even more to come, as the coldest forecast winter in years approaches.

MetService forecaster Stephen Glassey says the strikes hit across the whole island, with "quite a lot" in Taranaki, Taumaranui, Taupo, Waikato and some in the Bay of Plenty.

Thunder and lightning will continue until midnight on Friday from Horowhenua northwards, excluding the east coast. For the rest of the island, the strikes will ease later in the day.

A strong wind warning is also in place with gusts that "could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures", MetService says.

"Driving may be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles."

There is still snow on the ground across the South Island, as well as frosts and black ice, Mr Glassey says. It will continue to shower throughout the day, but there may also be periods of sunshine.

A heavy snow warning is still in place for Fiordland as well as parts of Westland, Southland and Otago.

But this week's cold snap isn't at its worst yet, Mr Glassey says.

"Today it will feel colder than what it actually is probably because the wind chill makes it feel colder.

"Having said that, there is a southerly change coming through over lower South Island [on Friday night] so it's certainly going to feel cold.

That southerly makes its way up the islands... [Saturday] will be colder than it is today."