Weather: Category 3 tropical cyclone Dovi to dive-bomb into New Zealand bringing heavy rain, damaging gales

A severe tropical cyclone will dive-bomb into New Zealand this weekend bringing heavy rain and damaging gales for both islands. 

Cyclone Dovi became a severe category 3 cyclone on Friday as it tracked past New Caledonia towards Aotearoa, WeatherWatch said. 

It's expected to still be severe when it arrives in the country over the weekend. 

"The storm is expected to retain category 2 strength as it dive-bombs into the NZ area this weekend from the north.

"While it will have a lot of intense energy as it moves southwards over the Tasman Sea it is expected to unravel over NZ - but that means it will dump a lot of rain here and as it 'falls apart' it will also bring areas of damaging gales into both main islands," WeatherWatch said. 

Central New Zealand is in for a battering with 100 to 300mm of rain possible. WeatherWatch warns the rain could cause slips, flooding and road closures.

The storm will "fall apart" as it moves, becoming an ex-tropical cyclone and bringing damaging winds to both islands over the weekend. 

Gusts may be anywhere from 100km/h to 150km/h, WeatherWatch says. 

Dovi is expected to make landfall in Aotearoa late Sunday night or early Monday morning somewhere in the western North Island most likely between the Waikato and Taranaki. 

Regardless of where it lands though, both islands should expect bad weather. 

"Severe weather will occur in both islands due to the unusual shape the storm gets once it becomes ex-tropical - a process which sees the intense wind energy at the centre of the storm fan out further and break apart into sections," WeatherWatch said. 

Metservice has issued several weather warnings across the country. A wind watch is in place for the upper North Island from Saturday night to Sunday night. 

The forecaster says severe winds are possible until Sunday night. Taranaki, where Cyclone Dovi is expected to hit, has a heavy rain warning in place from midday today until Sunday. 

While western areas of the North Island including Waitomo, Taumarunui, southern parts of Taupō, Taihape, Whanganui and Manawatu have a heavy rain watch in place. 

Tongariro National Park also has a heavy rain warning along with Wellington and areas of the Wairarapa. Horowhenua and Kāpiti can also expect downpours. 

The South Island won't get off scot-free with a wind watch in place for Tasman and Buller until Sunday night. 

A heavy rain watch is also in place for Marlborough excluding the Sounds, and Canterbury north of Waipara.