Cyclone Gita to drench large chunk of the country

Cyclone Gita will be 'a significant storm' when it reaches NZ - MetService

"This can prevent more damaging flooding if rain doesn't abate quickly", Grafton said.

MetService has predicted the rest of the weekend to be fairly nice.

The very worst winds are likely to be within a 900km circle and New Zealand is 1600km long.

Air New Zealand warned on Monday that flights in and out of New Zealand faced major disruptions this week due to Cyclone Gita, set to hit the country on Tuesday, and encouraged passengers to defer travelling. But the latest models show the cyclone making landfall squarely on the South Island.

"New Plymouth to Auckland is the current hotspot for landfall", she said.

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"We could see 150 km/h gusts easily, which is huge".

"We do know it's coming to New Zealand, and we do know it's going to be a significant storm when it gets here".

She said use the weekend to tie stuff down, get stuff inside and be ready.

New Zealand's MetService issued severe weather warnings for most of the country's South Island, expected to be hit by heavy rain and gale-force winds, while it said western areas of the North Island will face strong northerly winds. Civil Defence's director Sarah Stuart-Black said in a statement that people should prepare for the possibility of power cuts, water outages and road closures, while Wellington City mayor Justin Lester said commuters should make early decisions about whether to stay home or delay their trip if the ex-cyclone hits the region. "In addition, winds associated with Gita are likely to cause large waves to affect some coastal places, and the expected storm surge allow run-up of waves in some low-lying coastal places, particularly at high tide".

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