Heavy snow warning issued for central North Island as chilly weather sets in

Heavy snow and occasional rain is expected for parts of the central plateau overnight as a wintry chill hits the country.

The MetService has issued a road snowfall warning for State Highway 1 Desert Road from midnight tonight to 8am tomorrow morning.

A snow level of 700 metres is expected overnight.

One to three centimetres of snow may accumulate on the road above 700 metres during this time.

Snow is also expected for Rimutaka Hill Road (State Highway 2), with snow reaching up to 500 metres in height.

Meanwhile, gales are forecast to spread up the country today, then slowly ease on Monday.

A severe weather watch has been issued for Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough, Christchurch and Canterbury through to Monday.

A strong wind watch continues for the Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Marlborough, Wellington and Wairarapa today and tomorrow.

MetService say the severe weather watch is for the possibility that southerly gales may become severe in exposed coastal areas at times from Banks Peninsula to East Cape.

To find out the weather in your area over the weekend, click here.

A winter landscape from New Zealand National Park
North Island's Desert Road (file picture). Source: