Dramatic satellite animation reveals 'river' of polar air as winter dawns over NZ

June 1st has coincided with a winter blast across New Zealand and the satellite imagery this morning shows a spectacular blast of cloud around the country as the sun rises.

Squally showers with hail pepper many regions with the main southerly energy coming in like a river of cold from Antarctica up into NZ, just to the west of Fiordland and into the eastern Tasman Sea.

Thunderstorms and large hail pummel parts of West Auckland (+Video & Photos)

An intense burst of thunderstorms came off the Tasman Sea around 7pm Friday and pelted West Auckland with larger than normal hail.

Winter arrives in NZ and like clockwork winter weather turns up! (+5 Maps)

Updated 1pm Saturday --- It's the first day of Winter 2019 on the meteorological calendar and Mother Nature knows it, dropping temperatures, bringing hail, thunder, heavy snow and downpours.

Update: Heavy Snowfall maps for New Zealand (x3)

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As the polar change moves across the country rain is falling as snow at higher elevations. While snow is heavy it is higher up and out of most main centres, but centres in Southland, Otago and Canterbury above 300 metres may get a dusting today or tonight.

Wintry change only just starting to move in, peaks this Saturday & Sunday

The big wintry change which has already blasted Tasmania and South Australia is about to pounce on New Zealand.

Latest satellite imagery shows the main cold front moving in from the west tonight and across the entire country over Saturday. The colder change will cross the north eastern corner (Gisborne, East Cape) overnight Saturday/very early Sunday.

Next week: Two more storms bring gales and heavy rain (+2 Maps)

After five months of frequent calm and dry weather NZ's weather pattern has been turned upside down today and will do so again next week - twice.

VIDEO: Your Queen’s Birthday Weekend forecast + outlook for all next week

New Zealand has two storms coming next week but before they arrive we have a polar blast kicking in from tonight and across Saturday and Sunday.

Heavy snow, heavy rain and gales are all in the forecast along with isolated thunderstorms and hail. In saying that, some regions do have sunny weather this weekend - and Monday looks better for most places.

UPDATE: 3 Day Snow & Rain accumulation maps, plus Temperature map as Winter arrives!

Saturday is the first day of winter on the meteorological calendar and Mother Nature is playing her part with a roaring cold southerly.

Here comes the Snow, Cold and Rain. We have the latest Maps (x5)

Melbourne just had its coldest May day in 19 years and this southerly blast is now about to pounce on NZ with heavy snow, rain, thunderstorms, gales and a big temperature drop.

VIDEO: Winter Blast peaks on Saturday - we break down your Queen’s Birthday Weekend weather

A significant winter blast is coming with heavy rain and strong winds before it arrives - and warmer than average temperatures too.

On Friday things start to cool down as the colder air moves in, but the main southerly moves up the South Island across Friday and not into the North Island until late Friday and early Saturday.