Weather: Heavy rain and gales as cold front strikes New Zealand

Weather: Heavy rain and gales as cold front strikes New Zealand
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There's heavy rain for the west of the South Island and gales for parts of central New Zealand as a cold front strikes the country.

MetService says a "complex trough" will hit the far south of the South Island from the Tasman Sea on Saturday night.

It will then move north over the South Island during Sunday and onto the lower North Island early Monday, bringing rain to many areas.

"Rain is developing ahead of the front during Saturday afternoon and evening over Fiordland and Westland," MetService says on Facebook.

"Sunday sees a cold front moving up the South Island, with strong northwesterlies developing ahead of the front, and by midnight the front is expected to lie close to Cook Strait. Southwest of the front the wind arrows indicate a change to strong cold southwesterlies.

"Monday sees the front lying close to Gisborne by late morning, and the cold southwesterlies cover much of the New Zealand by Monday afternoon."

A heavy rain warning has been issued for Westland south of Otira. A heavy rain watch is in force for northern Fiordland, northern Westland, Buller and the Tararua Range.

A strong wind watch has also been issued for Canterbury High Country, the Kaikoura Ranges, the Marlborough Sounds, Wellington, Wairarapa and Hawke's Bay south of Hastings.