UPDATE: This is a report from Saturday. For the latest on Cyclone Tino, click here.
A ferocious tropical cyclone terrorising the Pacific is now a "severe" category 3 storm and could soon create horrid conditions for Kiwi beach-goers.
Tropical Cyclone Tino has ripped across several Fijian islands and now is heading southeast, with central parts of Tonga in its sights. Two people are missing after the storm struck Fiji.
At about 11:30am, the tropical cyclone was designated as a category 3 storm, with WeatherWatch describing it as "severe".
"This is not good news for Tonga with a direct or near hit likely this evening."
The forecaster says it is now "strong enough to cause serious damage".
"Storm stronger than initially forecast."
MetService has also confirmed it is now category 3.
Earlier on Saturday, MetService meteorologist Bill Singh warned that things could get worse. He said there was also a chance of hurricane-force winds if it intensifies.
"Based on the current satellite animation and looking at the general flow of where it is going, I think this cyclone still has got a chance to deepen to a category 3 system before moving towards Tonga."
As the storm drives southeast, WeatherWatch says the weather system will pass northeast of New Zealand. From Sunday, while it won't be a "direct threat" to New Zealand, it will "churn up some NZ beaches" by creating merciless seas.
WeatherWatch says "offshore storms will make some eastern beaches more dangerous in the North Island, especially around Monday and Tuesday and it's important to highlight the increased risk at some of beaches as the weather above may be sunny and pleasant".
There could also be massive four-metre swells. On Friday, WeatherWatch's Philip Duncan said these sort of storms have been "deadly" in the past with large waves and rips.
Surf Life Saving says beachgoers should be "extra vigilant" on the east coast due to the potential conditions created by the ex-tropical cyclone.
"We often experience an increase in difficult, challenging rescues during this type of weather pattern," said national lifesaving manager Allan Mundy.
"Do not swim alone and stay well within your depth. Be aware that when a large surging wave comes into shore, what was your swimming depth will be lost as the surge carries you out at least an extra metre - that's half the height of an adult!"
As well as swimming between the flags, Mundy wants the public to remember the 3Rs Rip Survival Plan.
"Relax and float to conserve your energy. Raise your hand to signal for help. Ride the rip until it stops and you can swim back to shore or help arrives."
Locally, most of New Zealand will be sunny on Saturday with some light wind.
Temperatures should hit the low 20s in the north as well as at coastal parts of the South Island. In the east of the North Island and Wellington, the mercury will be in the mid to late teens, while it will be the mid to late 20s in inland South Island regions.