MetService meteorologist Brian Mercer says Cyclone Gita will pack winds of 100-200km/h and will grow in intensity as it hits New Zealand.
Speaking to the NZ herald today, Mr Mercer told Kiwis to start readying themselves for the tough conditions likely to strike next Tuesday or Wednesday.
The big question was where? He said, that, as yet, was uncertain.
"But there is still a lot of uncertainty in the models," says Mercer. "It could come earlier or later, even Monday or late Wednesday.
"Exactly where it will hit is also uncertain."
Mr Mercer said the North Island was currently in the firing line but the cyclone could yet hit further south.
A sunny weekend ahead
Before Cyclone Gita makes its way to New Zealand, much of the country can first enjoy a fine weekend.
MetService said yesterday it should start to curve towards southeast of New Zealand on Monday.
It has spurred warnings for Wellington, who are preparing for heavy rain and wind deluge by clearing drains and warning of weather hazards.
According to WeatherWatch, New Zealand is in for a hot day as the weather settles before Gita remnants are predicted to hit next week.
Most of the country should see a warm, sunny day today, except for the West Coast, Southland and Otago which is expected to see rain.
Currently, there are Severe Weather Warnings for heavy rain in Fiorldand and Westland.
TVNZ1's Breakfast reporter Matty McLean said the mostly-fine Friday makes way for a good-weather weekend, with isolated showers in the west and south of the South Island gradually clearing tomorrow.
On Sunday, inland showers in the North Island and areas of the South Island are predicted to continue, and the forecast "isn't too bad" for the rest of the country.