Your web browser (Internet Explorer) is out of date. Some things will not look right and things might not work properly. Please download an up-to-date and free browser from here.

Big lazy low gets nasty

Waterspout off Maketu

Amazing waterspout captured off the Maketu coastline, Bay of Plenty, this afternoon.  Photo / Kim Easther is warning more isolated pockets of hailstorms, waterspouts, tornadoes and thunderstorms are possible across the upper North Island this afternoon and tonight.

A band of active thunderstorms remains in the Bay of Plenty region although they are now confined to offshore and eastern areas and western East Cape.

Thunderstorms are also likely to re-develop again tonight in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and King Country as the back end of deep low moves through.

The low is currently making landfall now in the Waikato region with the most unstable conditions within a 200km radius.  The centre of the low is likely to cross Hamilton city this evening however the centre is a relatively calm area.

Meanwhile it’s been a bitterly cold day across the country with single digits or highs below 13 common almost everywhere.

Gusty southerlies have eased a little in the Capital this afternoon.

Low air pressure will remain over New Zealand for all of Tuesday but by Wednesday the 3 lows responsible for the cold and freak weather will move out into the Pacific Ocean.

See earlier updates by clicking “Read more” for details on the upcoming low. 

Water Spout

Picture taken from Maketu rd looking towards Papamoa.  Photo / Allan Warner

SEE PHOTOS and read news of the amazing HAIL STORM in Bay of Plenty today by clicking here

This will be the final update in this particular thread/bookmark.




  Overall winner of the Routeburn Classic alpine run Jacob Roberts at the Harris Saddle. Photo / Magic Memories.

Monday 10am Update – NEXT UPDATE will be Monday evening.

***2:30pm – Seperate to this story we currently have Breaking News at the top of our homepage: ***

Flashes of lightning were seen across the west coast of the North Island last night from New Plymouth to Auckland as a deep low continues to churn away off the Taranaki Coast.

As of 10am more thunderstorms were forming between Taranaki and Waikato and also out over water in the Bay of Plenty.

In animated rain radar images from the past 2 hours the centre of the low is now clearly visible about 150kms south west of Auckland and 150kms north of Taranaki.  The low is slowly moving eastwards and should make landfall over Waikato around lunchtime or early afternoon and then move south east to reach Hawkes Bay around midnight. 

The unstable atmosphere produced by the low means more heavy showers and isolated hail and thunderstorms for those western regions from Taranaki to Northland with regions along the Tasman Sea most vulnerable.

Already today 5000 lightning strikes have been detected around the country, mostly around the top half of the North Island and mostly offshore or along the Tasman Sea coastline. forecasters believe the low has probably peaked as far as intensity goes but as day 4 of this week long system kicks in the weather is anything but settling down over the North Island and lower South Island. 

Sleet and wintry showers will continue in Dunedin and Invercargill today and tomorrow with southerlies helping keep temperatures down.

In the middle of the country and Wellington is being blasted by a strong, cold, southerly this morning.  Winds are near gale force at sea level with gales about the hill suburbs with heavy showers in the area.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

Conditions from our week long weather system look set to ease on Wednesday however another area of low pressure, also described as “massive” by Forecasters will be hot on its heels.   

Confidence is building that strong to gale force nor’westers will develop Thursday and quickly spread up the country along with heavy rain along the West Coast. 

The difference between this low and our current one is that it’s not likely to be centred over us, nor is it likely to stall over us.  However the sheer size of the system means it will affect our weather well into next week with more unsettled conditions.  

The low is associated with the pool of storms and lows that circle Antarctica all year around.  In winter this pool of cold air grows larger and the cold energy is frequently released over New Zealand.

Click “Read more” for older stories on this low.


Moon Rise

What nasty weather?  A magnificent moonrise over Motiti Island, Mt Maunganui on Saturday night.    Photo / Taylor Shea

Have any severe weather photos? 

Please send them in!  Click here.

NZ at a glance – 5:30am Monday

Whangarei 8                                        Nelson 9

Auckland 9                                            Blenheim 5

Hamilton 7                                            Greymouth/Hokitika 1

Tauranga 9                                           Christchurch 3

Gisborne 7                                            Timaru 5

Napier 7                                                 Oamaru 4

New Plymouth 8                                   Dunedin 4

Rotorua/Taupo 5                                  Queenstown 0

Wanganui 9                                           Wanaka 1

Palmerston North 6                              Gore 2                          

Wellington 9                                           Invercargill 4

Temperatures are expected to remain cold in the south and cool over much of the North island today. 

Earlier story

A few flashes of lightning are being seen in the west of the North Island tonight while sleet continues to fall around Canterbury.

The large area of low pressure surrounding New Zealand has helped spawn a deep low just off the Taranaki coast.  This low will move very slowly north east over the next 24 hours and will continue to pump out ‘waves’ of heavy showers with isolated thunderstorms and hail for northern and western regions north of about New Plymouth. 

At the time of this update a heavy band of showers was moving in to the western coastline with a few isolated thunderstorms and hail showers.

Conditions aren’t expected to ease in the North Island until Wednesday.

In Canterbury the larger (but less intense) low pressure centre off the east coast is so wide it means there’s a lack of isobars on the weather map – and therefore little in the way of wind tomorrow.  However the calm area will only cover the Canterbury region with gusty southerlies in Wellington and again further south in Dunedin where sleet is likely.

The centre of the low may well give those in Christchurch a sunnier day however with the air pressure so low and the atmosphere so unstable cloud cover and even showers or sleet will both be a possibility.  

Sleet and strong cold southerlies are also likely again in Southland.

Back to Christchurch and the increase in sunlight means temperatures should be up on today.  A high closer to 10 degrees is likely. expects the main focus to be on the North Island tomorrow and we’ll have extensive coverage on the thunder and hail storms in the north and west, but also coverage on temperatures and where the sleet is in the south. 

We also invite you to send in any weather observations you have from where you are, simply by posting a comment below. 

Cold Queenstown
Snow on the Remarkables in Queenstown this morning.  Photo / Alison MetherellThe Tasman Sea is producing some spectacular cloud formations this afternoon and a wave of thunderstorms, hail storms and torrential downpours are about to move in to northern and western region of the North Island, several hours later than originally expected.

Meanwhile it remains close to snowing at sea level around Christchurch and Canterbury this afternoon with rain and sleet in the area.  It’s currently just 3 degrees in Akaroa with rain and hail showers around Christchurch, which is on 5.

Dunedin has showers and 5.

Thunderstorms are now tracking across Waikato with showers becoming widespread from Kapiti to Northland in the next few hours. rates the chances of hail and thunderstorms as “very high” for these western regions.

Earlier story

Reports are coming in of snow falling in the south, as polar air takes hold of the lower half of the mainland.

Last night inland areas of Canterbury, Otago and Southland had snow falling down to 100 metres in one or two areas with Geraldine, South Canterbury seeing the snow fall.This morning, snow levels are continuing to lower as temperatures near freezing point.

Gore is currently on 0 with Invercargill just a couple of degrees warmer with a very chilly southerly.

Dunedin Airport is also feeling the chill with just 3 degrees and some heavy showers containing rain and snow in the area.

Canterbury should feel the full impact of the southerly late morning or early afternoon.

Another front worked its way over the North Island last night with some heavy rain in places but temperatures generally remained above 10 degrees. Not as many thunderstorms were reported, compared to 24-48 hours ago but there is potential for hail and thunder across northern and central regions of the country today.

Earlier story

Cloud with steady rain has moved into Canterbury with Timaru feeling the cold rain and sleet tonight with a temperature of just 2 degrees. Dunedin is currently on zero and Invercargill is shivering on one degree.

Further north and Taranaki, Manawatu and Wellington are seeing rain fall tonight and the precipitation is heading north.

Conditions are deteriorating quite rapidly and are expected to worsen overnight for much of the country.

Alpine passes in both islands are expected to be affected by snow, making it difficult for travellers, with chains expected in some areas.

 Sun through Storm Cloud
Storm clouds are quickly building again, like this photo, looking out over the Kaimai’s from Tauranga yesterday.  Photo / Jann Rowlinson.

It’s still on the horizon and New Zealand is standing by for a wintry blast that is preparing to unravel itself over our shores from later tonight.

Four lows are expected to circle the nation, which isn’t an everyday occurrence and all combined, are likely to deliver very cold air  with snow to low levels in the south, accompanied by strong winds about southern and eastern coasts.
Further north, thunderstorms look likely to be in the mix again with strong, gusty sou’ westers, holding in their grasp some squally, beefy showers with hail.

Temperatures will plunge with the onslaught and with the windchill combined, temperatures will ‘ feel ‘ close to zero in a number of areas, especially from the central North Island regions southwards.

Sleet, hail and snow are likely to fall to near sea level in the south and east of the mainland, delivering a bitterly cold Mothers Day.

The icy visitor is expected to maintain its hold on Monday and Tuesday with an improvement expected midweek.


By midnight tonight four significant lows will be joined together around New Zealand to form one large system according to 

The lows will be spiralling around each other causing them to circle clockwise around the entire length of the country, re-energising the wintry weather system that brought over 10,000 lightning strikes to the country yesterday along with hail storms and low temperatures this morning. head weather analyst Philip Duncan says day two of the week long weather event has seen hail showers in Auckland and squally conditions right up the west coast of the North Island ease a little today with eastern parts of the South Island enjoying a mostly sunny, but cool, day.

But Mr Duncan says the “massive” depression is intensifying this afternoon and a stream of Antarctic air is about to hit the South Island and spread north.  “Another active front is racing out of the Southern Ocean today and behind it is a pool of much colder air.  This will bring snow to low levels in the South Island, single digit highs to many places tomorrow and heavy showers, some with hail and thunder, along the western coastline”.

Mr Duncan says northern and western parts of the North Island will be most vulnerable to thunderstorms and hail showers during Sunday.  “The air is getting colder, the winds are getting stronger and the atmosphere is getting more unstable as the air pressure drops.  The next few days will be quite rough in a number of places”.

He says as with Friday is predicting an 80% chance of thunderstorms again in western and northern parts of the North Island tomorrow with the risk of thunderstorms and hail remaining until Wednesday.  “With the air getting colder we’ll probably see more widespread hail showers over the next few days”.

Our government forecaster has today issued 9 heavy snow warnings for the South Island with snow to 200 metres in the far south and 300 metres around Canterbury.  MetService says sleet may fall to near sea level.  Read the warnings in full here.

The Weather Watch Centre says there’s a chance snow may fall to sea level in Canterbury on Tuesday as the coldest air arrives.

Temperatures are expected to plummet tomorrow in the South Island with daytime highs in places like Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch struggling to rise above 4 to 6 degrees.there's a squall coming!

“One of the basic rules of forecasting is not labelling the weather good or bad” says Mr Duncan “but I think most New Zealanders would describe the weather over the next few days as fairly nasty, even if some of us do love it”.

Squally showers with hail continued to spread across northern New Zealand this morning…conditions have eased for now, but will return again tomorrow the length of New Zealand.  Photo / Laura Jerome.

Have any severe weather photos? 

Please send them in!  Click here.

Heavy showers continue to spread across central and western parts of the North Island this afternoon and into this evening while cold weather remains firmly entrenched in the South Island.

Thunderstorms continue to develop around the upper North Island, mostly confined around Northland.  So far today the free and live lightning detector at has recorded over 10,000 lightning strikes around the North Island.

It’s been a cool day too in northern and western regions of the North Island with Auckland only reaching 14 degrees while Gisborne made the national high with 19.

In the South Island and snow to 600 metres confirms colder air has arrived.  Christchurch has spent much of today on 6 degrees with light drizzle and showers, making it potentially close to sleet conditions this evening.

In Gore it’s 3 degrees and raining making it close to snowing. advises motorists driving in Southland, Otago and through the Southern Alps to be aware of hail, sleet and even snow tonight.

Saturday is looking set to be a little more settled and sunnier in many regions as another frontal system develops out in the Tasman Sea.  Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says showers in the west will become lighter with sunny spells developing however the next rain band will arrive on Saturday night.

“It’s too early to know if the rain will arrive during or after the Super 14 game in Hamilton.  This low is very large and complex so timing is hard to work out”. 

Next Update:  Saturday morning, with more frequent updates when conditions step up a gear again most likely on Saturday afternoon and throughout Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

For more on this storm click “Read more” at the bottom of this story.

Earlier story

“New Plymouth’s being treated to a spectacular lightning storm at the moment – lots of fork lightning lighting up the sky” says our Taranaki Weather Watch reporter John Blackman.

Next in line for the thunderstorms are Northland, Auckland and Waikato.  The front is expected to move into these areas in the next hour or two and marks the beginning of long week of heavy showers, rain, strong winds and snow right across New Zealand.

The active cold front swiftly surged out of the Southern Ocean and into the Tasman Sea late yesterday afternoon and evening.

The sheer size of the low is creating problems for all forecasters.  “With a system this large a ‘small’ move by the low has ‘big’ consequences those underneath it” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “What could be a slight shift in the overall weather map could, for example, be the difference between Canterbury getting snow or not”. predicted yesterday there was an 80% chance of thunderstorms right up the nation’s west coast and across northern centres over the next 24 hours with heavy showers, brief squally winds up to gale force and pockets of hail showers. 

“It probably sounds more dramatic than it will be but New Zealand is certainly about to have a wintry, stormy, weekend and week ahead” says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.  “As we’ve said all week the low is predicted to grow so large that the energy will be spread across a big area – that should reduce the severity of the weather but means more places will be affected”.

However Mr Duncan does say the low will bring weather that most people would consider “nasty”.   “It’s hardly going to be an outdoors weekend.  We expect strong winds in a number of places, heavy showers and colder and colder air moving up the country”.

Single digit highs, between 6 and 9 degrees, look common place over Southland, Otago and Canterbury starting tomorrow and perhaps lasting as late as next Wednesday.

The North Island will see stormy conditions moving in from the west this morning with Auckland being hammered by strong westerlies, heavy showers, thunderstorms and possibly hail.   Most places in the upper North Island can expect similar conditions.

Government forecaster MetService says there’s a “moderate risk” for thunderstorms, heavy rain, strong winds and hail across Taranaki, King Country, Waitomo, Waikato, Coromandel Peninsula, eastern Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Northland today.

They also have included Southland in their severe weather outlook – rating the chances of heavy snow as “moderate” this weekend.



Today is looking relatively settled following a wild Wednesday weatherwise across New Zealand but make the most of it – an aggressive system is about to set in.

Despite clear skies in Auckland this morning a few heavy showers do still remain in the area but should dry up as the day progresses.  Northland’s west coast is also receiving showers but they should ease this afternoon.

Plenty of shower cloud remains in the Tasman Sea and as winds shift from sou’westers to nor’westers today it could turn some back towards western areas that had dried out overnight.

It’s a cold morning across New Zealand with single figures in Auckland and frosty conditions from about the Central Plateau to Central Otago.

However an aggressive cold front is racing out of the Southern Ocean and will spread up the South Island during this afternoon reaching Auckland by tomorrow morning.

Thunderstorms, potentially damaging squalls, and hail are all in the forecast for western areas says head weather analyst Philip Duncan.

As Friday progresses a low will develop and deepen to become what was described by yesterday as a “monster low” covering the entire country for the next several days.

This low will dredge up bitterly cold air – Invercargill, for example, may not climb above 7 degrees on Friday.

Due to the low being so big the centre, where winds are the calmest, may well engulf much of New Zealand – that means that the worst winds look likely to be in the far north and the far south with central New Zealand and eastern parts of the South Island most likely, at this stage, to be in the firing line for rain and heavy showers.  Snow, possibly heavy, looks likely to affect parts of Otago and Canterbury and maybe Southland too.

This storm is one will be monitoring very closely.  We’ll be having regular updates throughout the next several days in this thread/story.  

Flooding in Wigram, Christchurch, this morning.  Photo / Mark Thomas.

Cold and windy conditions are now spreading across the country following severe weather this morning from Christchurch to Taranaki.

This evening the rain radar shows large showers moving into western parts of the North Island but skies are clearing in many other areas.  Heavy rain and showers remain across central New Zealand but should ease overnight.

Winds gusting up to 70km/h are affecting most regions with colder air now moving up New Zealand.

However tomorrow is looking calmer.  Sou’west winds will ease then turn slightly warmer nor’west ahead of the next front on Friday. 

Thunderstorms have now mostly cleared the country after an early morning wake up call in Wellington.  Close to 800 lightning strikes have been picked up by the lightning detector at the Weather Watch Centre, mostly around the North Island.

The downpours caused commuter problems with surface flooding around the Capital prompting police to warn motorists to take care.

In Christchurch heavy rain set in last night with between 31 and 43mm of rain falling in 12 hours from 10pm last night.  That caused surface flooding around the city.  There are concerns by weather analyst Richard Green that the heavy rain overnight and this morning is just the entree to the upcoming large low – and further rain may cause problems around Canterbury.

The Weather Watch Centre has moderate to high confidence of several days of rain or showers for the Canterbury region.  is reporting surface flooding across both Wellington and Christchurch this morning. 

Wellington Weather Watch reporter says Dave Smart says hail, thunder and powercuts have affected the Wellington region this morning.

Heavy hail at Kilbirnie, Wellington early this morning.  Photo / Dave Smart

We’re also receiving reports of heavy showers and thunderstorms in the Taranaki Region.  Weather watcher Brent Procter said at 8am “it’s currently showery with blustery westerlies and plenty of lightning”.

Earlier update click “read More”

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the next system will be very large – affecting an area about the size of Australia – and could bring an entire week of unsettled weather to most of New Zealand.  “We’re talking heavy rain for some western regions in both islands and possible heavy rain in eastern areas of the South Island, snow is also likely across the South Island to low levels in the east such as Canterbury”.

Mr Duncan says strong winds, possibly severe gale force, will surround the low but it’s too far out to know whether it will affect land.  “There is little doubt in my mind that some regions are in for strong winds but a massive low pressure system like this one doesn’t always equate to severe weather.  The wider the centre of the low is the more thinly spread the energy is”.

Public forecaster MetService is also watching the computer models closely and has severe weather watches for heavy rain across western parts of both islands and snow in parts of Canterbury and Otago.  

Mr Duncan says the large pool of unstable air may well bring a number of thunderstorms, hail storms and heavy showers to many regions.  “This is perfect weather for thunderstorms and heavy showers particularly in the west”. has a free and live lightning detector which you can find here .

The coldest weather is likely to develop on Saturday or Sunday in the South Island and move into the North Island early next week with strong to gale sou’westers in coastal areas. 

Snow is likely to close alpine roads in the South Island.

Thursday looks to be more settled before the large low pressure system moves in.

We’ll increase the number of updates on this system as the low develops and deepens over the next few days. will be monitoring this large system very closely and will bring you regular updates right here.  Click the headline of this story and add this page to your Favourites or Bookmarks for faster access to our updates.

Have any severe weather photos? 

Send them in,  click here.



Derek on 11/05/2009 4:44am

From the weather situation in Whangarei over the last two days we seem to have missed out on all the rough stuff, no thunder or lightening, no hail, just quite a bit of sunshine interspersed with the odd shower. Not bad conditions at all.
But by the late afternoon however, it has very overcast accompanied by a several degree temp drop.

Like today, around noon it was about 15 or so here at home, but by 3pm it had dropped to 12 with the overcast sky.

The pics of the hailstorm over at the Mount were terrific, glad I am not there especially with the possibility of further hail plus water spouts. Mind you we have had our moments so I do hope everyone gets through it with no damage done.

Diana on 10/05/2009 9:36am

Apart from old shower in the morning, what a great mothers day this turned out to be. Blessed and bathed in sunshine.. a little cool. But while a wee dull late afternoon, when the sun hid behind the clouds, it still made for a great day. I got the lounge re-organised and changed around the house clean as a whistle, by 2 pm the the washing was dry . Are we in for it yet Phil or are still? or a wee bit too south?

If possible – ty keep the clouds and the rain your way.. I need next weekend to spend outside getting the section ready for winter, and that about do it for me , the weather can do what it likes after that!.

Guest on 10/05/2009 7:02am

Not to flash in just over a week from what i can see on the vic uni site, still early days yet.

Andrew on 10/05/2009 8:04am

Whats that website called….?


WW Forecast Team on 10/05/2009 9:00am

Cheers, WeatherWatch

Rachel jennings on 10/05/2009 4:52am

Hey Phil

It’s dark and absolutely pouring here on and off. I wonder is the low got more in it or is the heavy rain going to continue. It’s also very chilly!!!

Guest on 9/05/2009 10:51pm

The rain intensity is certainly picking up here in Christchurch.


David on 9/05/2009 11:40am

Hi Phil,

Just had a loud peal of thunder here…and a second one almost overhead with a brilliant flash of lightning…


David on 9/05/2009 11:29am

Hi Phil,

Yes, the pressure has fallen rapidly this evening and rain has set in.
Hardly any wind…

Temp 6.3deg. Pressure 985.0mb/hpa and steady…


View more comments

Related Articles