Unusual Cyclone Owen now 'severe', flooding for Australia likely but storm unlikely to directly affect NZ (+6 Maps)

Cyclone Owen is now a Severe Category 3 Tropical Cyclone and Australian forecasters say it may peak at Category 4 today before making landfall in northern Australia and then sliding down the Queensland coast as a significant rain event.

Weather Video: NZ is under a rare ‘high pressure donut’ - watch for downpours

New Zealand is currently being affected by a very rare set up - a large belt of high pressure with a small low perfectly in the middle of it. It's a bit like a high pressure donut - which sounds like Homer Simpson's ultimate dream.

Cyclone Owen reforms, heavy rain coming for much of eastern Australia, likely weakens before NZ

Cyclone Owen has reformed and this time around may grow into a severe Category 3 storm before drifting back where it came and then down the eastern coastline of Australia and into the Tasman Sea area.

Powerful and shallow 7.6 quake hits New Caledonia - NO TSUNAMI THREAT FOR NZ

UPDATED 5:51pm --- A magnitude 7.6 quake, just 10kms deep (according to the USGS) has hit near Noumea, New Caledonia north of New Zealand.

Continuous thunder across parts of the North Island this morning

UPDATED 9:01am --- A very active widespread area of thunderstorms is currently crossing the upper North Island, affecting Auckland and Waikato and soon Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Manawatu and Kapiti.

Some storms have generated continuous rolling thunder - especially in parts of Auckland's. 

Weather Video: Another big low means more frustrating areas of weekend rain

More rain is falling today in the parched eastern side of the North Island with some farmers telling us it’s done the trick for them for the rest of the year. The low responsible for that rain, and the cooler, wetter, past few days in Canterbury, is now moving away to the east bringing fairly dry weather in for the next day or two but with more inland downpours in the afternoo

Sydney and NSW hit by dust storm - will it reach NZ? (Photos + Dust Maps)

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Parts of New South Wales are being hit by a dramatic dust storm today with parts of Sydney now affected by dust. The storm stretches 500kms and light dust is now falling in Sydney with forecasters saying the skies could turn red this afternoon.

PHOTOS (x2): Waterspouts spotted in Hauraki Gulf just offshore from Auckland City

Isolated downpours continue to affect parts of the Auckland region with an early evening thunderstorm near Rangitoto Island creating waterspouts (a tornado over water).

The weak waterspouts connected from the clouds to the water with two remarkable photos captured by Jo Ottey Photography clearly showing the sea water being sucked up.

High pressure slipping away, allows for some rain to move in (+5 Maps)

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An enormous high pressure system (anticyclone) has been affecting New Zealand for 10 days now and will continue to do so for another 24 to 48 hours before finally slipping away out to the east.

Sunday's national forecast - plus a couple of maps

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The forecast for New Zealand today isn't too tricky - we have a lot of high pressure dominating both islands.

There will be a little more cloud in western regions today, especially coastal areas. Fiordland has the chance of a few showers and later in the day a downpour may develop in eastern Otago around the hills/ranges.