Torrential rain, thunderstorms forecast in lead-up to a fine New Year's Eve

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Friday, 29 December 2017, 7:47a.m.

Most of the country looks set for a clear New Year's Eve, but some parts of New Zealand face torrential rain and strong winds before the sun arrives.

The top of the North Island and those down south are due for some fine, sunny weather today, however the central North Island isn't so lucky with the forecast.

MetService meteorologist Tui McInnes said exposed areas like Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and the Wairarapa were hit by a bout of bad weather last night, which would last until around midday today.

"Basically we've got a low pressure system that's hanging out east which will hit the south-eastern coastline of New Zealand," he said.

About 50mm of rain fell overnight in the Gisborne ranges but revellers at the Rhythm and Vines music festival escaped the worst of the anticipated storm, as just showers fell near the coast.

The sea remained rough with large 5m swells, however, they would drop to 3m across the day as the low tracked away.

Rain and southerly winds on the East Coast were expected to die down by tomorrow afternoon, making way for some rays on New Year's Eve and on New Year's Day.

The forecast for the rest of the country tracking to the beginning of 2018 was mostly a mixture of sunny, fine days and cloud.

Holiday-makers in Wanaka and Queenstown aren't as lucky, as a smattering of rain threatens to cast a shadow over New Year's.

The weather was expected to pack in from New Year's Day onwards in many popular holiday spots up north too, where a consistent bout of rain expected in Tauranga and Auckland from January 1 onwards.

McInnes said temperatures would be moderate, hovering around the late teens and early 20s in most regions.

Tens of thousands of people had already flooded into the Gisborne region yesterday for the country's biggest New Year's Eve festival, Rhythm and Vines.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday evening, festival spokesman Chris Henry said the weather had held off as the first concert-goers pitched their tents.

"There's no rain at the moment," he said.

"We've got about 60 per cent of our campers in now, they're already enjoying festivities.

"Nobody seems to have had their spirits dampened as of yet."

Henry encouraged any festival-goers who hadn't left yet, to "be smart" with their packing.

Wet weather gear was a must, he said, as was the usual sun-smart essentials for when some rays made an appearance.

The MetService had severe weather warnings out for Northern Hawke's Bay and Gisborne, cautioning heavy rain and strong winds. The warnings would be lifted this afternoon.

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