The predicted scorcher of a day in the deep south has happened with a new record set in Invercargill, prompting a fire ban to be put in place.
"Around 5:30pm today, the official temperature reading at #Invercargill airport reached 32.3C - likely a new record high temperature for that location," MetService tweeted.
The city's previous hottest ever day was 32.2C in 1921.
MetService meteorologist Sarah Haddon said similar conditions are expected on Monday.
Since 1905, Invercargill temperatures have reached or exceeded 30C only 14 times in January, NIWA said.
A total fire ban has been imposed across Southland from midnight.
"There is an extreme fire risk for the next two days, with the forecast for even higher temperatures as well as wind," says Elton Smith, the principal rural fire officer.
"Already today we have had five vegetation fires across the region, and we're on stand-by for more over the next couple of days,
"The total fire ban means no outdoor fires are allowed, and any existing permits for fires are cancelled."
The only exception is for gas BBQs - and they must only be used well away from anything that can catch fire.
A low approaching from the Tasman Sea is set to spread rain and strong northerly winds over most of New Zealand from the middle of the week.
A rain band associated with the low should move onto western parts of New Zealand late on Tuesday, then move slowly across the rest of the country on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Strong winds are also expected, especially around the top of the North Island late on Tuesday and Wednesday.