Weather: Thunderstorms spotted in Bay of Plenty

Thunderstorms have been spotted in the central and eastern North Island as turbulent atmospheric conditions cause "afternoon rumbles".

MetService says there is a "moderate risk" of thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

"Unstable southerlies are expected to spread scattered heavy showers across the northeast of the North Island this afternoon and early evening, with a low risk of thunderstorms extending from northern Taupo to the Hauraki Gulf and across to northern Hawke's Bay," it says on its site.

"However, the risk of thunderstorms is considered moderate about Gisborne and Hawke's Bay north of Wairoa, which may produce localised rainfall rates of 10 to 25mm/hr and small hail.

"Also, there is moderate risk of thunderstorms about eastern Waikato, the Kaimai range, and westernmost Bay of Plenty, with a low risk of localised downpours boosting rainfall rates to between 25 and 40mm/hr."

Next week, WeatherWatch forecasts rainmakers lying close to the northeast and southwest of the country.

"By Thursday a storm in the Southern Ocean should send a burst of rain into the West Coast and maybe Southland while showers at the top of the North Island move back in with more humidity," it says.

"Humidity late week will help create more heavy downpours through some inland parts of the North Island - and into the weekend for February 29th (leap year).

"At the same time, another burst of rain returns to the southwestern corner of the South Island."