Gisborne District Council and Surf Life Saving NZ are urging people in the Gisborne area to prepare for Cyclone Cody, which could hit New Zealand as early as Friday.
The cyclone has intensified to a category 2 storm as it approaches New Zealand, with waves as high as four metres predicted.
Cyclone Cody is due to hit New Zealand on Saturday afternoon but waves along the East Coast of the North Island are expected to build rapidly from Friday.
Popular beaches, including Mount Maunganui, are forecasting waves to be as high as four metres by Sunday.
All the eastern side of the North Island will be impacted, including Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and possibly Hawke's Bay.
National search and rescue manager at Surf Life Saving New Zealand Allan Mundy is issuing a warning for swimmers and beachgoers.
"Conditions created by the cyclone are likely to pose great risk to swimmers and people carrying out other coastal activities as they create strong rip currents, strong winds and large surging waves inundating the beach, which are a hazard for would-be swimmers and walkers alike," Mundy says.
Mundy urges people to avoid swimming if the cyclone hits as it can catch swimmers out and bring unpredictable patterns.
"Even when swimming in relatively shallow water, swimmers can quickly find themselves out of their depth when these large cyclone swells hit the beach," he says.
"Such waves are not consistent, and this unpredictable pattern often catches out beachgoers, because the large dangerous waves are spaced well apart.
"The best advice is take note where the wet sand is, that's how far the big waves will travel up the beach - so stay out of that zone."
MetService warns residents in Gisborne that Cyclone Cody will pose a risk to coastal communities and campers and asks them to have a plan in place to manage the likely impacts.
Gisborne District Council's civil defence and emergency manager Ben Green asks people to take caution as the cyclone will likely bring heavy rainfall and will impact road networks and inland areas.
"Given we still have recovery underway from the last severe weather event in November, we need to ensure we are aware of the risks this event may pose," Green says.
"Those in coastal locations and areas that have previously been prone to flooding should be keeping an eye on MetService forecasts and updates. Closer to the weekend we are likely to know the actual path of the cyclone."