Tropical Cyclone Hola is forecast to hit the upper North Island in the early hours of Monday morning, but the tides could be in New Zealand's favour, says MetService.
The storm is currently near the Loyalty Islands, with wind gusts of up to 185km/h, and is heading on a south-southeastward track for the next two days.
It is expected to hit the upper North Island on Monday, but MetService said the storm is likely to be less destructive than cyclones Fehi and Gita because the tides will be lower.
MetService meteorologist Andy Best says the upper half of the North Island will be worst-affected
"There is a high risk of heavy rain and severe gales in the Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne areas from early Monday through to Tuesday."
Mr Best said it was still early days and the storm could change speed or intensity at short notice.
While we've plenty of fine weather today Tropical #CycloneHola looks set to bring some windy and wet weather to northern NZ on Monday. Keep an eye on the forecasts at https://t.co/Yjbq0jxdqz ^JL pic.twitter.com/1VVfEFIFmZ— MetService (@MetService) March 10, 2018
The cyclone, which caused damage in Vanuatu's northern islands, re-intensified into a category 3 overnight, with sustained winds of about 150km/h at its centre, and is now bearing down on New Caledonia's eastern Loyalty Islands.
At least one person has died and two others have been seriously injured in Vanuatu because of the cyclone.
NIWA announced last year alongside other agencies there was an above average risk for tropical cyclones to come close to New Zealand this season, due to La Nina weather conditions.
The average is about one ex-tropical cyclone a year.
NIWA said yesterday there was also a possibility later in the month for another tropical cyclone further north in the Pacific.