The remnants of Cyclone Gita is barrelling towards central New Zealand and residents are being warned to brace for its impact.
After wreaking havoc in Tonga last week, the cyclone is expected to make landfall here from tomorrow and stay until Wednesday morning.
Ministers were briefed by Metservice this afternoon on how big a punch Gita could pack.
"The low itself is going to track across New Zealand Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The impacts will be felt ahead of this," said. Lisa Murray, Metservice meteorologist.
That means heavy rain and severe gales of up to 150 kilometres an hour forecast from Taranaki to Wellington, Nelson and Marlborough, to the West Coast and Canterbury.
And those winds, a high tide overnight and waves of up to seven metres, could bring coastal flooding to Kapiti, Buller and North Canterbury.
The capital is expected to take a pummeling from Cyclone Gita and residents are being warned to clear drains and tie down loose items like trampolines.
The most damage is expected in Nelson and the West Coast where residents are still picking up the pieces from ex-cyclone Fehi just two weeks ago.
Roads still under repair could face further setbacks.
People should check flight statuses, with Air New Zealand expecting significant impact.
Residents should also avoid road travel if possible and have a grab bag ready if you need to evacuate.
And keep in touch with schools and childcare centres on opening. All Buller and Grey district schools are closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Hunker down and listen to messages.. Power could be out so making sure you've got alternative means of being able to listen to the radio," said Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi.
West Coast mayors will meet again tomorrow morning to decide if a local state of emergency should be declared.