Waitangi weekend weather: Warm long weekend ahead but brisker start for eastern areas

Warm and dry conditions are on the cards this Waitangi Day weekend as high pressure continues to smother New Zealand.

Yet it could be a slow burn for some areas, with slightly cooler south-easterly winds initially spelling showers and chillier temperatures for the east coast of both islands. 

"It is going to be a warm weekend. A little bit cool to start along the east coast of both islands, such as Hawke's Bay, coastal Otago, coastal Canterbury," NIWA principal scientist Chris Brandolino explained to The AM Show on Thursday.

"Little bit cool for this time of year, but as we progress through the holiday weekend, things will warm up."

A few showers are expected on the eastern side of the North Island later on Friday, with some lingering drizzle and light winds heading into Saturday.

"The weather will be largely dry and it will warm with each successive day," Brandolino said. 

Although shoreline areas along the east coast are in for a patchy start, inland Canterbury and Otago can expect the long weekend to end with a bang.

"Interior Otago and interior Canterbury probably pushing - maybe exceeding - 30 degrees by the second half."

Sunday and Monday are expected to be predominantly dry days, however a couple of showers could affect the northern regions. Warm, humid northerlies will be kicking in on Monday as cyclone season reaches its peak.

A number of tropical cyclones have been tracking north of New Zealand, with ex-Cyclone Ana unlikely to directly impact the country. However, it may contribute to the rougher conditions along the east coast.

Meanwhile, meteorologists are also keeping an eye on Cyclones Bina and Lucas, the latter heading towards Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

"It's not a particularly strong tropical cyclone, but Lucas is forecast to drift from the New Caledonia-Coral Sea area early next week and down to the Tasman Sea," Brandolino explained. 

"It's a long way out, but there are indications it could come to our neck of the woods. We do need the rain - we are in drought. 

"Lucas could bring - if it were to impact New Zealand - a lot of rain."

Yet WeatherWatch has largely dismissed the cyclones, with head analyst Philip Duncan noting that the high pressure currently dominating the country is providing some protection. 

"By Saturday, Cyclone Lucas is falling apart. We don't think it will be a cyclone by then," Duncan said in a weather update on Wednesday.