A cold front is set to hit the country this weekend, bringing heavy rain, gales and possible thunderstorms.

MetService is predicting the front will move across the South Island on Saturday, bringing heavy rain to western parts and possibly gale-force northwesterlies to exposed parts in the east.

Most of the south will start the day with warm temperatures, some even reaching into the 20s before the wind changes to a cooler southerly, meteorologist Angus Hines said.

“It’s heavy falls and possible thunderstorms on the west coast on Saturday with strong winds in other parts of the nation.

“By midnight we can see it’s starting to squeeze onto the North Island as well,” he said.

In the North Island, it will be a mostly fine day on Saturday but things are expected to take a turn in the afternoon with cloud and wind increasing in central areas.

On Sunday, many parts of the island could see some heavy rain and strong gales including Auckland, Wellington, Whangārei and New Plymouth.

The cold front comes off the back of a relatively mild week across the country.

Isolated showers are expected in parts of the North Island today but by midday, the rain should have faded with the wind dying down bringing “pretty pleasant” weather for the afternoon and evening.

Napier was the warmest spot in the country at 9am with 21.8C. Auckland was sitting on 14.5C and Wellington 15C.

It should be a sunny day for most of the South Island, with higher temperatures in the afternoon as a northwest flow starts to kick into gear, Hines said.

Christchurch and Blenheim were sitting on 17C at about 9am, with Nelson on 16C.

Severe weather warnings in south

Heavy rain watches are in place for the Westland ranges and Fiordland as well as the Canterbury and Otago lakes and rivers south of Arthus Pass.

MetService is warning rainfall amounts in these areas may reach warning criteria and the watch may be upgraded closer to the time.

A strong wind watch is in place for the Canterbury high country. Northwest winds may reach severe gale in exposed places.

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