Brace for heavy rain, possible thunderstorms in parts of southern and central New Zealand, MetService warns

Heavy rain and strong winds battering parts of New Zealand isn't expected to let up this morning, MetService warns.

A severe weather warning is in place for western parts of the South Island, with significant heavy rain forecast.

Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous, the weather agency says.

A heavy rain warning in in place for Westland, south of Otira. The area is expected to get 100 to 160mm of rain to accumulate about the ranges, with 50 to 80mm near the coast today and tomorrow.

The headwaters of Canterbury lakes and rivers also has a heavy warning in place for today and tomorrow. The area is forecast to have 100 to 150mm of rain accumulate about the main divide, with 70 to 110mm within 20km further east. 

It's looking similar in the headwaters of Otago lakes and rivers with 100 to 120mm of rain to accumulate about the main divide, with 60 to 90mm within 20km further east today and tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, Fiordland from Doubtful Sound northwards is expected to get 70 to 90mm of rain to accumulate. 

Thunderstorms are also possible in those warning areas.

MetService also has a heavy rain watch in Buller, Westland from Otira northwards; and a strong wind watch in Wairarapa and Tararua District, Marlborough, Wellington and Canterbury High Country.

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The winds saw the grounding flights and closing highways with Wellington the hardest hit by the damaging gusts. Source: 1 NEWS