NZ weather: Amber alert warning for Auckland Harbour Bridge ahead of severe gales

Aucklanders are being warned about severe gale force winds that could close the Harbour Bridge over the city's Anniversary weekend. 

Winds are expected to gust to 40-50km/h on Thursday before strengthening in the evening to 50-60km/h. Conditions are expected to worsen on Friday, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) said in a statement. 

"Northeast wind gusts of 90km/h are also forecast tomorrow from 7am - midday, triggering an amber alert," NZTA said. 

"From midday - 10pm wind gusts of 90-100km/h are forecast, with a risk of 110km/h, which would signal a red alert."

The transport agency said under an amber alert, speeds would be reduced and lanes may close on the bridge, while under a red alert, the bridge would close entirely.  

"Motorists are urged to drive to the conditions, look out for the electronic message boards which will indicate lane closures and reduced speeds, or full bridge closure, and stay within their lane while travelling across the bridge," NZTA said.  

The rain and wind won't be welcome news for Sir Elton John fans, with the megastar performing at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

Newshub has contacted his promoter to see if the weather will affect the show after bad weather recently forced the postponement of the Six60 concert in Wellington.

NZTA urges drivers of high-sided vehicles and motorcyclists to avoid the Harbour Bridge and use the Western Ring Route on State Highways 16 and 18.

The North Island is set to be battered by wind, rain and thunderstorms over the weekend with MetService issuing weather warnings and watches for several places.

A strong wind and rain watch is in place for Auckland from 7am to 10pm on Friday. MetService said there could be periods of heavy rain, with thunderstorms possible while northeast winds could approach severe gales in exposed places.

A heavy rain warning is also in place for the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty west of Whakatāne and Northland. Mount Taranaki also has a heavy rain watch in place. 

For any Aucklanders looking to head away for the long weekend, MetService urges them to reconsider their plans. 

"If you were planning to get away on Friday it might be worth delaying," MetService said.

"Blustery winds and heavy rain increases the risk of travel delays, especially around Coromandel."

NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll told AM on Thursday a subtropical moisture plume will "dampen plans" for Kiwis in the North Island.

"It'll move into Northland later on today, Thursday, and then it'll move southward as we go into Friday when it'll be right over the top of Auckland," Noll told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

"So those folks that are looking to leave Auckland and go somewhere else in the North Island later on Friday, it's not looking the best because it actually will not just be over Auckland but the likes of the Coromandel, Western Bay of Plenty, Waikato, perhaps down to Taranaki as well."