New Zealand weather: North Island beset by gale-force winds, heavy rain during Auckland's COVID-19 lockdown as South Island basks in high

The weather's not good news for Aucklanders trying to get a break from their household bubble.
The weather's not good news for Aucklanders trying to get a break from their household bubble. Photo credit: MetService / Getty

Aucklanders wanting to get out and about during the COVID-19 lockdown should be prepared for a soaking, with the three days at home coinciding with a period of major rainfall.

Large swathes of the North Island are set for a deluge as a sub-tropical low makes itself at home during the first of the week, with some parts likely to see as much as 150mm of rainfall from Monday through to Wednesday.

Northland has already taken a hammering, with Kerikeri Airport recording 116mm of rainfall in the 18 hours leading to 7am on Monday - the majority of which came in the final six hours, MetService says.

Weather Watch says this north-east corner of the North Island is likely to be the country's wettest area.

Meanwhile those in the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty could be in for a soaking, with MetService issuing heavy rain warnings for the next two days and advising there may be thunderstorms.

Gisborne and Hawke's Bay are also set for a drenching on Monday night.

In Auckland, where the coronavirus response was escalated to alert level 3 on Sunday after three community cases were detected in the region, rain may scupper plans to get out of the house.

The city is likely to get light to moderate showers across the next few days, Weather Watch forecasts, with some isolated heavy downpours. 

"Totals vary across the region but 30-70mm is the most likely spread," head forecaster Philip Duncan says. "Very positive for the city especially - but not enough to reverse two years of below-normal rainfall."

Those in the south-west of the North Island are likely to be impacted by winds, but not so much by the rain.

"Totals in Manawatu, for example, may only be 20mm over the next few days."

The winds, some of which Weather Watch warns will be "gale-force" and gust at over 100km/h, will be in play throughout the next few days in the upper half of New Zealand.

"[Winds] will squeeze through some valleys, wind tunnels and marine areas due to the low-pressure system sitting on the top of New Zealand," Duncan said.

But it's a different story down south.

After a few hours of rain, the bottom half of the country will enjoy sunshine and dry conditions thanks to a "powerful high" keeping the North Island's stormy weather at bay.

Weather Watch says this high will bring a very settled end to the week followed by a dry, settled weekend.

There will be some frosts, with overnight highs dragging temperatures to near-zero for some of the country's eastern and southern regions.