Weather: Rare red warning issued in South Island for severe gales

A rare red warning has been issued for the Canterbury High Country from Sunday afternoon for another burst of severe gales, with gusts of 160km/h expected in exposed places.

Red warnings are only used for the most extreme weather events where significant impact and disruption is expected.

MetService says these "significant and damaging" winds are associated with a cold front as it moves northwards up the South Island today and early tomorrow.

"Northwesterly severe gales with gusts of 160km/h are expected in exposed places, with the strongest winds expected later this evening into tomorrow morning," it warns.

These winds are likely to result in widespread damage across the Canterbury High Country and foothills, especially to trees and power lines.

"Significant impacts are also expected to transport and power networks, with road closures and power outages likely," MetService expert meteorologist Hordur Thordarson says.

Driving conditions will be very hazardous, and MetService warns there's a "danger to life" from falling trees or branches and flying debris.

There's also a risk to property including roofs being lifted off and unsecured structures blown away.

Canterbury Emergency Management is urging people to prepare by checking roofs and guttering are secure, tying things down, and bringing pets inside. People are urged to stay inside during the storm and avoid touching metal pipes in case of lightning strikes.

The rest of the eastern South Island is currently under an orange warning, including the Canterbury Plains and Christchurch, which could also see damaging gales tonight into tomorrow morning.

The windy weather will move northwards overnight and hit the lower North Island on Monday, however peak winds are expected to ease across Monday.

WeatherWatch says this means while severe gales will return to the lower North Island, hopefully they won't be as intense as they were on Friday.