2000

Tuesday 9 January 2001

Summary

A sunny and slightly warmer than normal year
Very wet in Canterbury and Otago
More anticyclones but many extreme events

The first year of the 21st century produced a wide variety of climate extremes and the second warmest winter since records began in the mid 1850s, according to a review of annual statistics by NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research). Unusually high sunshine hours occurred in Taranaki.

The year 2000 featured many new climate records and extremes, with summer–early autumn drought, contrasting with 15 high-rainfall events producing floods in most other months. Two notable heatwaves occurred, and six cold snaps, five with snow. Three tornadoes were reported, and 11 high-wind events all caused property damage. Severe hailstorms occurred on three separate occasions.

More anticyclones than normal occurred east of New Zealand, resulting in more easterlies over the north of the North Island and northwesterlies over the far south. Analyses of month-by-month records for the year compared with recorded statistics for previous years show:

  • The year’s national average temperature was 12.7°C (0.2°C above the 1961–1990 normal).
  • The highest recorded annual mean temperature for the year was 16.0°C recorded at Whangarei.
  • The highest extreme temperature for the year was 35.0°C recorded at both Darfield and Culverden on 4 March and the lowest -12.4°C at Tekapo on the morning of 24 August.
  • The winter was the second warmest on record since reliable measurements were established in the 1850s. The national average winter temperature of 9.1°C was up 0.9°C on the 1961 to 1990 normal.
  • The driest recorded centre was Alexandra, with only 475 mm of rain for the year.
  • The wettest recorded location was Milford Sound, with an annual total of 7019 mm.
  • Christchurch was the driest main centre with 706 mm and Auckland the wettest with 1046 mm. Wellington received 994 mm and Dunedin 926 mm.
  • The capital was again the sunniest of the three largest centres with 2172 sunshine hours, followed by Christchurch (2141 hours), and Auckland (1952 hours).
  • Nelson was the sunniest centre in 2000 with 2534 hours, followed by Blenheim with 2447 hours and Tauranga with 2347 hours.
  • New Plymouth’s 2334 hours of sunshine was the highest in the area since 1943.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Jim Salinger – Principal Scientist, Climate
NIWA National Climate Centre – Auckland
Phone +64 9 375 2053
j.salinger@niwa.co.nz

Stuart Burgess – Climatologist
NIWA National Climate Centre – Wellington
Phone +64 4 386 0569
s.burgess@niwa.co.nz

Geoff Baird – Communications Manager
Phone +64 4 386 0543
g.baird@niwa.co.nz

Acknowledgement of NIWA as the source is required.

For more details read on

2000 – a sunny and slightly warmer year
Late summer drought
Very wet in Canterbury and Otago

“The year started during a moderate La Niña event, which continued through autumn, and weakened in winter and early spring. During late November/early December there was a brief resurgence. The La Niña originated during 1998 in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, with a pool of much cooler than normal ocean water” said Dr Jim Salinger, a senior climate scientist with NIWA. “Its effect on the year 2000 climate began early, with drought during late summer. However, as the year progressed, the warm seas around New Zealand and more frequent northeasterlies during winter, had more influence on our climate in year 2000.

“Substantial rainfall occurred in April, ending the drought. For the remainder of the year it was very much wetter than average in Canterbury, Otago, and the southwest tip of the South Island.” In these areas rainfall for the year was 110 to 135 percent of normal. Rainfall was below average, being about 80 percent of normal in parts of Northland, Coromandel, Gisborne, Taupo, Wellington and Marlborough. Many other areas received near average to slightly below average for the year as a whole.

“It was a sunnier than average year in many areas, but especially in Taranaki and Southland. Sunshine hours were near average in the northeast of the North Island.

“2000 was yet another spectacular year in our climatic history, with many new records and climate extremes established”, said Dr Salinger. “We saw new records of extreme temperature and high rainfall, as well as late summer–early autumn drought. The three months May to July were very much warmer than normal, with the winter being extremely mild. There were at least 15 flood-producing events spread throughout the year. A severe southerly windstorm buffeted Banks Peninsula during mid–October, and there were three tornado events reported. There were also three severe hailstorms, two with golf ball-size hailstones reported.

“There were more anticyclones than normal to the east of New Zealand during 2000. These produced more easterlies over the north of the North Island, and northwesterlies over the far south.”

Very sunny in Taranaki and Southland

“2000 was a year when higher than normal sunshine was recorded in many areas, but particularly in Taranaki and Southland, with hours about 110 percent of normal. It was the sunniest year since 1943 in New Plymouth. Sunshine was about 105 percent of normal in western Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, and much of the South Island. Near average sunshine hours occurred in most other regions”.

Extremes of annual sunshine for the year 2000 were measured at:

Location 2000 sunshine (hours) Percentage of normal Year records began Comments
Whakatane Airport 2130 92 1957 2nd lowest
New Plymouth Airport 2334 108 1973 Highest on record at the airport. Highest in the New Plymouth area since 1943.

“Nelson was the sunniest centre in 2000, recording 2534 hours, followed by Blenheim with 2447 hours, and then Tauranga with 2347 hours. Of the three largest centres, Wellington was the sunniest with 2172 hours, and then Christchurch with 2141 hours”.

Total sunshine hours for the year 2000 in selected main centres were:

Location 2000 Sunshine (hours) Normal (hours) Departure from normal Comments
Auckland 1952 2043 -91 Below average
Wellington 2172 2048 +124 Above average
Christchurch 2141 2057 +84 Above average
Dunedin Not available 1613
Invercargill 1767 1565 +202 Well above average

A little warmer overall

“The national average temperature, calculated by NIWA, was 12.7°C, which was 0.2°C above normal” said Dr Salinger. “For New Zealand as a whole, there were four warmer than average months, and three cooler than average months. Mean temperatures for the year were about 0.5°C or more above average in Auckland and Bay of Plenty, and between 0 and 0.4°C above average in most other regions. The warmest centre was Whangarei, with a mean temperature for the year of 16.0°C”.

The May through July period was very much warmer than average. Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures persisted throughout the year in the central and north Tasman Sea, contributing to these conditions.

The highest extreme temperature for the year was 35.0°C recorded at both Darfield and Culverden in very hot northwesterly conditions on 4 March. The lowest recorded temperature for the year was -12.4°C, measured at Tekapo on the morning of 24 August.

Very wet in Canterbury and Otago

“NIWA figures show it was one of the wettest years since records began in some areas of coastal Otago. It was also a much wetter than usual year in other parts Otago, Canterbury, and the southwest tip of the South Island, with rainfall at least 125 percent above normal. Drier than normal areas occurred in parts of Northland, Coromandel, Taupo and Wellington. Most other New Zealand regions recorded near or slightly below normal rainfall.

“The Canterbury and Otago totals were the result of several high rainfall events, rather than one single event throughout the year”, said Dr Salinger.

Extremes of annual rainfall for the year 2000 were measured at:

Location 2000 rainfall (mm) Percentage of normal Year records began Comments
Dunedin Airport 897 136 1963 2nd highest

* In this table, and throughout this report ‘normal’ refers to the 1961–1990 average

“Of the four main centres, Christchurch was the driest with 706 mm, and Auckland was the wettest with 1046mm. Wellington received 994 mm, and Dunedin 926 mm. Alexandra in Central Otago was the driest location NIWA measured in New Zealand, with only 475 mm,” said Dr Salinger. “The wettest location in 2000, for which rainfall data are presently available, is Milford Sound, with a total of 7019 mm.”

Significant weather events – 2000

Unusually warm months

At least four months of the year had unusually warm temperatures (the national average temperature being in the top ten, since reliable records began in 1850s.) Extremely high monthly mean temperatures were recorded at:

Location Mean temperature (°C) Departure from normal (°C) Year records began Comments
May
Owairaka 15.2 +1.9 1949 2nd equal highest
Auckland Airport 14.9 +1.6 1963 2nd highest
Hamilton Airport 12.9 +1.9 1971 Highest
Appleby 11.9 +1.5 1932 3rd highest
Queenstown 9.5 +2.2 1872 2nd highest
Invercargill Airport 9.2 +1.5 1949 2nd highest
June
Winchmore 8.0 +2.2 1950 Highest
Lincoln 8.2 +2.1 1881 2nd highest
Timaru Airport 6.9 +1.5 1962 2nd highest
Dunedin Airport 7.3 +2.0 1963 Highest
Invercargill Airport 7.1 +1.5 1948 Equal highest
Chatham Is. 10.7 +2.0 1878 Highest
July
Kerikeri 13.4 +2.1 1935 Highest
Whangarei Airport 13.5 +2.5 1968 2nd highest
Owairaka 13.2 +2.7 1949 2nd highest
Paeroa 12.3 +3.1 1914 2nd highest
Waihi 11.4 +2.4 1928 2nd highest
Tauranga Airport 12.5 +2.9 1913 Highest
Whakatane Airport 11.3 +2.8 1974 2nd highest
Rotorua Airport 9.8 +2.3 1964 2nd highest
Auckland Airport 13.0 +2.5 1853 2nd highest
Ruakura 10.7 +2.1 1921 2nd highest
Hamilton Airport 11.5 +3.4 1971 Highest
Taumarunui 9.4 +2.1 1947 2nd highest
New Plymouth Airport 11.2 +1.9 1944 2nd highest
Turangi 8.5 +2.3 1968 2nd highest
Gisborne Airport 11.6 +2.5 1937 2nd highest
Napier 11.6 +2.5 1870 Equal highest
Palmerston Nth. Airport 10.0 +2.0 1962 2nd highest
Kelburn, Wellington 10.5 +2.0 1864 2nd highest
Farewell Spit 11.7 +2.8 1971 Highest
Westport Airport 10.6 +2.1 1937 Highest
Hokitika Airport 9.2 +1.9 1867 Highest
Nelson Airport 9.2 +2.5 1943 2nd highest
Winchmore 7.4 +2.0 1949 Highest
Christchurch 8.4 +2.1 1864 Highest
Lincoln 7.9 +2.0 1881 Highest
Akaroa 9.2 +2.0 1978 Highest
Campbell Island 6.4 +1.5 1941 Highest
December
Tauranga Airport 18.9 +1.5 1913 3rd highest
Napier 19.7 +1.9 1905 2nd highest
Nelson Airport 17.9 +1.7 1943 Equal highest
Blenheim 18.7 +1.9 1932 2nd highest
Winchmore 16.6 +1.7 1949 2nd equal highest
Dunedin Airport 15.7 +1.9 1962 Highest
  • March Extremely high temperatures
    The highest air temperature for the month was 35.0°C, recorded at both Darfield and Culverden on the 4th. These are new records for March at both sites. Records at Darfield began in 1939. The highest March temperature for New Zealand is 36.0°C, recorded at Ashburton in 1956 and Clyde in 1976.
  • May 7th warmest on record
    The month was exceptionally warm, being the 7th warmest May on record since measurements began in 1853. The national average temperature was 11.6°C, 1.1°C above the 1961–1990 average. It was particularly warm in Auckland, Waikato, Nelson, Fiordland, Southland, and Central Otago, where mean temperatures were at least 1.5°C above normal. Unusually high temperatures were recorded on 1 May at:
    Location Max. temp. (°C) Year records began Comments
    Culverden 25.0 1983 Highest
    Dunedin Airport 24.3 1963 2nd highest
    Dunedin, Musselburgh 23.4 1947 3rd highest
    Alexandra 23.1 1929 2nd equal highest
  • June 6th warmest on record
    June was another warmer than usual month over much of New Zealand. The national average temperature of 9.3°C (1.0°C above normal) was the 6th highest for June since observations began in 1853. The month was particularly warm in the South Island, especially in the east, despite cold southerlies during the first two weeks. Parts of Canterbury, Southland, and coastal Otago experienced extremely high mean June temperatures, as much as 2.0°C above normal. It was also extremely warm for June in the Chatham Islands.
  • July 2nd warmest on record
    It was very much warmer than usual over most of New Zealand. Mean temperatures were as much as 3.0°C above normal in parts of the North Island and northern half of the South Island. The national average temperature was 9.3°C, 1.6°C above the 1961–1990 average; the 2nd warmest for July since observations began in the 1850s. The only warmer July was 1998 (9.6°C). Mean temperatures were at least 1.5°C above normal over most of the North Island, and northern South Island. There were extensive areas at least 2.5°C above normal in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty. The highest air temperature for the month was 22.3°C, recorded at Kaikoura on the 27th, its highest July air temperature since records began in 1964. A maximum of 19.0°C was measured at Paraparaumu Airport on the 20th; its highest July temperature since measurements began in 1953.
  • December 8th warmest on record
    The national average temperature was 16.9°C. This was 1.3°C above the 1961–1990 normal, making this the 8th warmest December since reliable measurements commenced in the early 1850s. Heatwaves occurred on a few occasions, and resulted in mean temperatures almost 2°C above normal for December in a few areas. Severe grass fires, cited as the worst in the area in European history, devastated about 7000 ha of grassland in the Wither Hills/Awatere Valley area near Blenheim from the 26th through 28th. These occurred during strong, hot and very dry northwesterlies and temperatures of near 30°C fanned the flames over the tinder dry region. Estimates of between 2000–4000 sheep and 100 cattle were lost due to the fires.

Low temperatures and snowfall

There were a few cold snaps and snow events early in the year, as well as some larger ones between June and September; the 11–13 June event being the most widespread.

  • 3 & 26 January
    Cold southerlies occurred on the 3rd, with unseasonable snowfalls to 800 metres in the Otago high-country. Snowfall to a depth of 30cm was measured at Coronet Peak. Temperatures dropped to -0.9°C at Invercargill Airport during the morning of the 26th. This was the lowest recorded in the Invercargill area in January since measurements began in 1905. The grass minimum at the airport was -6.2°C (the lowest recorded in January since measurements began in 1911).
  • 13–14 March
    Snow fell on the mountains around Queenstown on the 13th, with up to 6cm at Coronet Peak, and 15cm in the Remarkables ski area. Frosts followed, with air temperatures plunging to -5.5°C at Manapouri Airport during the morning of the 14th. This is a new record low air temperature for March at Manapouri, where records began in 1962.
  • 25 April
    A cold snap followed on the 25th, with snow on the Desert Road, and snow to a depth of 10cm recorded at the base of the Turoa skifield.
  • 11–13 June
    Very cold southerlies affected the country over the 11th to 13th, with high winds, lightning and snow to sea level in many eastern South Island regions. Snowfall closed the North Island's Desert Road on the 12th. Queenstown schools were closed, as snow 10cm deep blocked roads. Snow to 20cm depth was reported in Arrowtown. Most South Island high-country passes were closed. Snow depths to 30cm were measured at the summit of the Napier–Taupo highway. The heavy snowfall was welcome on both South and North Island ski-fields. Ice created problems for motorists when light snow occurred on the summit of the Rimutaka Hill road, north of Wellington.
  • 18–19 August
    Snowfall was extensive in inland south Canterbury, with depths of 35 cm at Tekapo and Burkes Pass.
  • 25–26 September
    Snow occurred on higher ground in Hawke's Bay in cold southerly conditions over 25–26 September as a developing depression tracked across the North Island from the Tasman Sea. The Desert Road and the Taupo–Napier highway were closed by 20 cm of snow and ice, and a number of trampers and travellers were isolated by the weather. Snow to a depth of 15 to 40 cm occurred in the Hawke's Bay high country.
  • November Coldest in more than 50 years
    November for many was even cooler than October. The national average temperature was 12.1°C, 1.7°C below the 1961–1990 normal, making this the coldest November since 1946. Mean temperatures were at least 2.0–C below average in the central and eastern North Island, as well as most eastern South Island regions, and at least 1.0–C below average in most other regions. Extremely low November mean temperatures were recorded at:
    Location November mean temperature(°C) Departure from normal (°C) Year records began Comments
    Rotorua Airport 12.3 -2.0 1886 2nd lowest
    Taumarunui 12.7 -2.2 1947 2nd lowest
    Gisborne Airport 13.7 -2.1 1905 2nd equal lowest
    Whakatu 12.5 -3.0 1905 2nd equal lowest
    Paraparaumu Airport 12.2 -1.8 1953 Equal lowest
    Levin 12.1 -2.1 1895 2nd equal lowest
    Blenheim Airport 12.1 -2.3 1941 2nd equal lowest
    Hanmer Forest 9.3 -3.0 1906 2nd lowest
    Kaikoura 10.9 -2.4 1964 2nd lowest
    Christchurch Airport 10.4 -3.4 1954 Lowest
    Lincoln 10.7 -2.6 1881 3rd lowest
    Akaroa, Rue Lavaud 11.7 -2.7 1978 Lowest
    Timaru Airport 10.2 -2.4 1906 2nd lowest
    Tara Hills 9.8 -2.1 1950 2nd lowest
    Dunedin, Musselburgh 9.9 -2.6 1853 3rd lowest
    Lauder 10.1 -3.0 1925 2nd Lowest
  • 20 November Unseasonably late snow and frosts
    Unseasonably cold southerlies brought snow flurries to low levels in the south of the South Island on the 18th and 19th, and hail to coastal Southland on most days between the 14th and 24th. Extremely late frosts occurred in Hawke's Bay on 20th November, destroying developing grapes in several vineyards in the area, as well as damaging some early squash, maize, pea and tomato crops. A -0.8°C air frost and -3.5°C ground frost were recorded at Lawn Road, Whakatu. This was the first November air frost recorded at this site and the lowest November grass minimum temperature there since measurements began in 1982. Information from other (now closed) Hastings recording sites suggest that these may have been the first November frosts to affect the area since the 1930s.

Drought and record low monthly rainfall

The year began with above average rainfall in many regions, which produced temporary alleviation from any serious soil moisture deficits in Canterbury and Otago areas previously affected by agricultural drought in the later part of 1999. However, February was an extremely dry month over much of the North Island with no rainfall at all in some areas of Hawke's Bay. Many North Island regions recorded less than a quarter of their normal rainfall. Rainfall was also below normal in the north and east of the South Island. The lack of rainfall produced severe soil moisture deficits in the Heretaunga Plains in Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Canterbury, and north and Central Otago, with soils drying out in Auckland, the Hauraki Plains, Bay of Plenty, and Manawatu. April's rainfall was plentiful over much of the country, recharging soil moisture levels in at risk agricultural regions. High soil moisture deficits became apparent again in Marlborough, inland Canterbury and Otago in December.

Record low monthly rainfall

Some locations measured extraordinary low rainfall at various times during the year. These were:

Location Rainfall (mm) Percent of normal Year records began Comments
February
Auckland 8 10 1963 Lowest
Ruakura 5 7 1906 Lowest
Hamilton 8 10 1936 3rd lowest
Paeroa 8 9 1914 2nd lowest
Te Puke 16 14 1973 Lowest
Rotorua 4 4 1964 Lowest
Taupo 1 1 1958 Lowest
Turangi 4 4 1968 2nd lowest
Hastings Nil 0 1892 Equal lowest
June
Gisborne Airport 24 19 1906 2nd lowest
July
Paraparaumu Airport 26 24 1945 Lowest
Kelburn 34 24 1862 3rd lowest
Lincoln 11 15 1881 4th lowest
August
Whakatu 16 28 1983 Lowest
September
Whangarei 37 30 1937 2nd lowest
October
Dargaville 20 23 1943 Lowest
Gisborne Airport 6 10 1905 Lowest
Napier Airport 7 13 1950 Lowest
November
Tara Hills 6 21 1949 Lowest
December
Kaikoura 16 29 1949 3rd equal lowest

Tropical depressions

Three depressions of tropical origin brushed the country. However, none were remnant tropical cyclones. These brought high rainfall to the north and east of the North Island on both 1 March and 9 April, and the north and west of the North Island over 11–13 May.

Floods and high rainfall

There were at least 15 high-rainfall/flood producing events during 2000. These were most frequent in the North Island. The most significant episodes are listed below.

  • 29–31 January Central New Zealand
    Heavy rainfall and thunderstorms lashed the north and west of the South Island and south of the North Island between the 29th and 31st. Rainfall totals exceeded 100 mm on the 29th in parts of Buller, Westland and the Marlborough Sounds.
  • 1 March Northern and eastern North Island
    High rainfall occurred throughout Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, East Cape, and Gisborne on the 1st, with totals as high as 95 mm at Waihi.
  • 13 March Eastern South Island
    Further significant rainfall occurred along the Marlborough coast and throughout Canterbury and coastal Otago on the 13th, with totals between 70 and 100 mm at many locations. Cape Campbell recorded 112 mm (with 29 mm in an hour at the peak of the event). Surface flooding occurred in parts of Dunedin.
  • 9–10 April Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and northern Hawke's Bay
    Heavy rainfall occurred throughout eastern Coromandel and Bay of Plenty on the 9th. Extremely high falls were measured at Tauranga Airport with a total of 166 mm in just eight hours from 3pm through 11pm, and 51 mm in the hour to 8pm. Severe surface flooding occurred in parts of the city. Rainfall of over 100 mm in 24 hours affected areas about and south of Wairoa on the 10th, with further flooding there.
  • 11 & 13 May Northland and south Taranaki
    High rainfall occurred in Northland on the 11th, with 113 mm measured at Kerikeri and 114 mm at Kaikohe. Further high rainfall occurred in south Taranaki on the 13th, with 114 mm measured at Normanby.
  • 4 June Hutt Valley
    Surface flooding occurred in the Hutt Valley with rainfalls as much as 70mm on the 4th.
  • 28–29 June Northern North Island
    High rainfall and widespread surface flooding occurred in Northland, Auckland, and Coromandel on the 28th and 29th. Many sites recorded rainfall ranging between 75 and 120 mm. Emergency services had to cope with thousands of calls for assistance.
  • 2–4 July Northern North Island
    High rainfall and widespread surface flooding occurred throughout Coromandel on the 2nd, with many places recording at least 100 mm for the 24 hours to 9am on the 3rd. A large slip blocked State Highway 25 near Te Kouma. The same weather system produced strong easterly winds over the next few days. The combination of wind, and high rainfall, as well as king tides resulted in heavy seas that threatened beach homes in exposed northern and eastern North Island areas. Floodwaters were about 20 cm deep in parts of Whangarei on the 4th.
  • 18 August Canterbury
    High rainfall and surface flooding occurred throughout Canterbury on the 18th, with many places recording rainfall totals of at least 100 mm, for the 24 hours to 9am on the 19th. Reports of 220 mm in 36 hours were noted at Cheviot. The Selwyn River had its highest flow since records began in 1961, swamping surrounding farmland. The Hurunui River was also in high flood. Many roads were closed. Snowfall was extensive in inland south Canterbury, with depths of 35 cm at Tekapo and Burkes Pass. Extremely high August 1-day rainfall was recorded in the 24 hours to 9am on the 19th at:
    Location August rainfall (mm) Percentage of normal Year records began Comments
    Winchmore 237 328 1947 Highest
    Ashburton 238 384 1909 Highest
    Timaru Airport 194 480 1898 Highest calendar month ever
    Dunedin, Musselburgh 134 229 1918 2nd highest
    Dunedin Airport 105 232 1963 2nd highest
  • 1–3 October Central North Island
    Heavy rainfall occurred over the central North Island with widespread surface flooding and many road closures, particularly in the Wairarapa Valley. A bridge near Otaki was seriously damaged by floodwaters, and the Waipoua River burst its banks north of Masterton, flooding surrounding farms and low-lying areas. The Manawatu River was also very high, with extensive surface flooding in the region. The 72 hour rainfall in the Tararuas totalled more than 750 mm. One house in Eketahuna was evacuated. Surface flooding and slips also occurred in Taranaki and King Country. Some surface flooding also occurred further south in the Queenstown area.
  • 10 October Central North Island
    Further high rainfall (300 mm in the Tararuas) resulted in further flooding in Eketahuna.
  • 12–13 October Banks Peninsula
    Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, and the Kaikoura Coast felt the effects of a severe southerly storm on 12 October, with damage to road and bridges, running to damage in millions of dollars. In Christchurch flooding (waist deep in places) closed roads. Emergency services were on full alert and the army was called out as some low-lying homes in the southeast of Christchurch were evacuated. Floodwaters made roads look like lakes in the Redcliffs-Sumner area. Rainfall in the city totalled 70 mm for the 48 hours to 9am on the 13th.
  • 4–5 November Whangarei
    High rainfall with surface flooding occurred in eastern Northland, especially about Whangarei, where rainfall totalled 202 mm in the 48 hours to 9 am on the 5th. Rainfall totalled at least 100 mm for the same period in many other eastern Northland locations.
  • 8 December Rotorua
    Severe thunderstorms occurred over Rotorua during the early morning, with spectacular lighting for 3 hours, along with localized heavy rainfall and surface flooding. Rainfall totalling 150 mm was measured on a farm at Lake Rotoiti (in the Rotorua region).
  • 12 December Wairarapa
    A number of Masterton houses, shops and businesses were flooded during heavy rainfall during thunderstorms. Nearby, Carterton measured 70 mm.

Record high monthly rainfall

Some locations experienced extraordinary high rainfall at various times during the year. These were:

Location Rainfall (mm) Percent of normal Year records began Comments
January
Taumarunui 245 229 1914 Highest
Dunedin, Musselburgh 175 247 1918 Highest
Dunedin Airport 188 265 1963 Highest
April
Tauranga Airport 311 322 1898 4th highest
June
Farewell Spit 281 256 1874 Highest
Queenstown 176 239 1893 2nd highest
August
Winchmore 237 328 1947 Highest
Ashburton 238 384 1909 Highest
Timaru Airport 194 480 1898 Highest
Dunedin, Musselburgh 156 264 1918 Highest
Dunedin Airport 105 232 1963 2nd highest
November
Whangarei Airport 258 305 1937 Highest
Kaikoura 140 240 1949 3rd highest
Raoul Island 275 294 1937 3rd highest

Tornadoes, gales and high winds

  • 13 March Buller and Otago
    High winds with property damage reported in coastal Buller and parts of Otago.
  • 26 April Coastal Otago
    Hurricane force southwesterlies battered exposed parts of coastal Otago on the 26th, with mean speeds as high as 120 km/h recorded at Taiaroa Head, and gusts to 153 km/h. Some trees were toppled, damaging power lines and cutting power to about 2000 Dunedin residents. There were also reports of broken windows and a roof lifted by the wind.
  • 1 June Mini tornado – Nelson
    Severe swirling winds battered parts of Nelson (from Stoke to Richmond) at 7.30 am on the 1st, with extensive damage at several schools. Many windows were shattered. Several cars (at the airport) were literally flung about and flying stones smashed twelve windows. A hangar door was destroyed. A dark narrow spiral was reported travelling across the region – described as a 'Texas tornado'.
  • 4 June North Island
    High winds created 7-metre swells in Cook Strait, cancelling ferry sailings. There were reports of fallen trees in Auckland and Bay of Plenty as gale force winds affected many areas of the North Island.
  • 18 June Eastern regions
    Gale northwesterlies occurred in Canterbury on the 18th, cutting power and damaging roofs. A few vehicles were overturned, including a 4.5 tonne truck trailer between Chertsey and Rakaia. Gales also affected the east of the North Island, with gusts to 150 km/h at Castlepoint and 117 km/h in Masterton, where a number of trees fell. Property damage was reported in Napier.
  • 2–4 July Western regions
    High winds buffeted Taranaki, with fallen trees and roofs damaged around New Plymouth.
  • 27 July Wellington
    Gale force northwesterlies with gusts to 146 km/h affected Wellington on the 27th, damaging roofs and power lines.
  • 30 August Tornado – Bay of Islands
    A tornado cut a swath of damage through the Bay of Islands farmland at 5.30 a.m. on the 30th.
  • 25–26 September North Island
    High winds from the south and southeast affected the North Island as a developing depression tracked across the North Island from the Tasman Sea. The highest gusts were 155 km/hr at Castlepoint and 135 km/hr at Mahia Peninsula. In New Plymouth windows were smashed, while southerly gales buffeted Wellington where a yacht broke its mooring. High winds also affected Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, where power lines were down, and a few houses lost their roofs and fences were damaged. Many rural Wairoa residents were without power for three days. Losses in the Wairoa region were in millions of dollars in terms of lost livestock and thousands of uprooted or damaged trees. Three people were rescued from a boat caught in high seas (with 7-m waves) 30 km northeast of Great Barrier Island on the 26th.
  • 1–3 October Central North Island and Canterbury
    High winds battered the central North Island and winds blew part of an iron roof off a house in Dannevirke. Gales battered Canterbury on the 2nd causing damage to trees, power lines, and roofs. Crane work at the Port of Lyttelton had to be suspended for some hours.
  • 9 October Mini-tornado/waterspout – Paraparaumu
    Winds described as those of a mini-tornado/waterspout struck a house at Paraparaumu Beach, ripping iron off both the house and garage roofs and uprooting trees and fences in the same street between 8.20 and 8.30am.
  • 12–13 October Severe winds – Banks Peninsula
    Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, and the Kaikoura Coast felt the effects of a severe southerly storm on 12 October, with damage to roads, bridges, and roofs running to millions of dollars. There were many fallen trees in Christchurch. Emergency services were on full alert. A truck was even overturned in the wind. Broken power lines resulted in 8000 houses in mid-Canterbury and 1000 homes on Banks Peninsula being without electricity. The Lyttelton marina was totally destroyed by storm-force winds (mean winds speeds at least 89 km/h) with huge seas and 4-metre swells. Twelve boats sank, 40 others were seriously damaged. There was much debris and many fallen trees blocked roads in the area. Hurricane-force winds (having average speeds of up to 120 km/h) were measured at Le Bons Bay above Akaroa. The southerlies reached Wellington later, with 6-m swells and 160 km/h winds in Cook Strait, causing the cancellation of ferry sailings. Wind gusts to 139 km/h were measured at Baring Head on the 12th. Sea spray and debris washed over Wellington's southern coastal roads, creating difficult driving conditions for motorists. Further north, power lines blew down in Otaki, and a Waikanae house was badly damaged by a fallen tree. In New Plymouth, a methanol tanker and a yacht broke their moorings in 4-m swells. Considerable wind damage was done to asparagus crops in Hawke's Bay. In Auckland a fallen tree caused two boats to break their moorings.
  • 12–13 November Wind damage
    Strong winds on the 20th brought down trees and ripped iron off roofs in coastal Southland, Waikato and western Bay of Plenty, where widespread damage to kiwifruit and avocado crops was reported.
  • 13 December Akaroa
    Northeasterlies up to strong gale force broke windows at an Akaroa property during the late afternoon.

Severe or damaging hail storms

  • 24 April
    Thundery conditions produced a severe but localised hail storm bringing traffic to a standstill for a time during the evening on the 24th on SH1 north of Wellington between Tawa and Porirua. Hailstones up to golf ball size were reported.
  • 7 June
    An unusually heavy hailstorm (with some stones as large as golf balls) occurred over Auckland's North Shore just before 8pm on the 7th. Hail was at least ankle deep (15cm) in places. The hail closed roads and there was also surface flooding. The event was mainly confined to the Albany, Torbay, Oteha Valley and Browns Bay areas. Wind squalls and heavy hail struck Waipu about 5pm on the same evening with damage to trees.
  • 28 November
    A severe hailstorm struck fruit growing areas of Motueka and Riwaka late on the 28th, damaging crops.

Sunshine extremes

Some locations incurred extremes of sunshine hours at various times during the year. These were:

Location Sunshine Total (hrs) Percent of normal Year records began Comments
February
Kaitaia 247 129 1951 Highest
New Plymouth Airport 254 114 1973 2nd highest
March
Gisborne Airport 130 69 1905 2nd lowest
April
New Plymouth Airport 127 73 1973 2nd lowest
May
Kaitaia 110 71 1951 3rd lowest
July
Palmerston North 167 169 1930 Highest
Paraparaumu Airport 168 138 1953 2nd highest
Kelburn 182 166 1928 Highest
Arapito 155 146 1980 Highest
September
Invercargill Airport 191 148 1932 2nd highest
November
New Plymouth Airport 254 125 1972 Highest
Gisborne Airport 166 73 1905 4th lowest
Nelson Airport 302 136 1949 2nd highest
Hokitika Airport 263 151 1964 Highest

For further information, please contact:

Dr Jim Salinger – Principal Scientist, Climate
NIWA National Climate Centre – Auckland
Phone +64 9 375 2053
j.salinger@niwa.co.nz

Stuart Burgess – Climatologist
NIWA National Climate Centre – Wellington
Phone +64 4 386 0569
s.burgess@niwa.co.nz

Geoff Baird – Communications Manager
Phone +64 4 386 0543
g.baird@niwa.co.nz

Acknowledgement of NIWA as the source is required.