Thunderstorms, strong winds, possible tornadoes to hit today

Thunderstorms bringing heavy rain, gales and possible tornadoes are due to hit the north and central New Zealand this morning.

Strong wind warnings are in place for Auckland, Wellington and Marlborough Sounds, with gusts of 100 km/h possible in Auckland and 120km/h in Wellington and Marlborough.

Thunderstorms could develop in Northland, Auckland and the north of the Coromandel Peninsula this morning, MetService said.

Some thunderstorms could bring damaging winds with gusts greater than 110 km/h and there was also a risk of a damaging tornado.

Wind gusts of this strength can damage trees and power lines and and may make driving hazardous, MetService said.

MetService forecaster Amy Rossiter said there was some uncertainty about the path of the low pressure system and where exactly will be most affected.

"But most of the North Island will get some sort of rain or heavy winds associated with it," she said.

MetService said any tornadoes would affect very localised areas.

The low pressure system is due to bring heavy downpours to many parts of the North Island and the far north of the South Island.

As it moved to the east of the North Island later in the day, strong cold southerly winds are forecast to spread north across central and northern New Zealand, with heavy snow possible above 500m for eastern Marlborough.