Spring 2009

Extremely dry for much of the South Island.

  • Rainfall: Below normal rainfall over much of the South Island, especially Otago and the Lakes District, as well as eastern parts of Northland, Auckland and Coromandel. Very wet in southern Hawkes Bay and the Tararua District. Near normal spring rainfall elsewhere.
  • Temperature: Near average temperatures in Northland, Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty and the Lakes District; a cooler than usual spring in most other regions.
  • Sunshine: Sunny over much of the South Island, as well as for Waikato, Taupo, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay. Very cloudy in the west from Taranaki to Wellington.

It was a very dry spring (with rainfalls below 75 percent of normal) in eastern parts of Northland, Auckland and Coromandel, and for much of the South Island. Record or near-record low spring rainfalls were observed in Northland, Coromandel, Westland, along the South Island Main Divide, in the Lakes District, and Otago, with totals often less than 50 percent of spring normal. In contrast, spring rainfall was above normal in southern Hawkes Bay, the Tararua District, and in Wanganui (with more than 120 percent of normal recorded). Elsewhere, near normal spring rainfall was observed.

Spring temperatures were near average (between -0.5°C and 0.5°C of average) along the eastern coasts of Northland, Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty, as well as throughout the South Island Lakes District and in Fiordland. Below average temperatures (between 1.2°C and 0.5°C below the seasonal average) were observed in most other regions of the country. However, there were several small pockets of well below average temperatures observed, particularly along the southeast coasts of both Islands (with temperatures more than 1.2°C below the spring average). Overall, the New Zealand national average temperature for spring was 11.6°C (0.4°C below the long-term seasonal average).

Spring sunshine totals were above normal (more than 110 percent of normal) over much of the South Island, as well as throughout the Waikato, Taupo, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay regions. In contrast, it was quite cloudy in the west of the North Island, from Taranaki through to Wellington, with sunshine totals less than 90 percent of normal.

Spring 2009 was characterised by stronger than normal southwest winds over New Zealand, caused by lower pressures to the southeast of the South Island consistent with El Niño.

Major highlights

  • The highest spring temperature was 32.1°C recorded at Whakatane on November 24th (an all-time record at this site). The lowest spring temperature of -7.2°C was recorded at Hanmer Forest on September 4th (not a record).
  • The highest 1-day spring rainfall was 122.3 mm, recorded at Milford Sound, on November 14th (not a record).
  • The highest spring wind gust was 184 km/hr, recorded at Stewart Island on November 4th (a November record at this site).
  • Of the six main centres this spring, Tauranga was the warmest, Wellington the wettest, Dunedin the driest and Christchurch the sunniest and coolest.

Rainfall

It was an extremely dry spring (with rainfalls below 75 percent of normal) in eastern parts of Northland, Auckland and Coromandel. Whangarei recorded its lowest spring rainfall total ever, since records began in 1937. Spring rainfall was also below normal (less than 75 percent of normal) over much of the South Island (except for Nelson, Marlborough, coastal Canterbury and coastal Southland, which recorded near normal spring rainfalls). Record or near-record low spring rainfalls were observed in Westland, along the Main Divide, in the Lakes District, and Otago, with totals often less than 50 percent of spring normal. Arthurs Pass experienced its driest spring ever (since records began in 1906), as did Lake Tekapo, Ranfurly and Lumsden.

In contrast, spring rainfall was above normal in southern Hawkes Bay, the Tararua District, and in Wanganui (with more than 120 percent of spring normal recorded). The remainder of the North Island (excluding Northland, Auckland and Coromandel), received near normal spring rainfalls (between 80 and 120 percent of normal).

Temperature

Spring temperatures were near average (between -0.5°C and 0.5°C of average) along the eastern coasts of Northland, Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty, as well as throughout the South Island Lakes District and Fiordland. Below average temperatures (between 1.2°C and 0.5°C below the seasonal average) were observed in most other regions of the country. However, there were several small pockets of well below average temperatures observed, particularly along the southeast coasts of both Islands (with temperatures more than 1.2°C below the spring average).

Afternoon temperatures this spring were record low in Kaitaia, Dannevirke and at Cape Campbell. Morning spring temperatures were record low at Turangi, Dannevirke, Hanmer Forest (where records began in 1906), Christchurch (in observations since 1863), and Dunedin.

Overall, the New Zealand national average temperature for spring was 11.6°C (0.4°C below the long-term seasonal average).

Sunshine

Spring sunshine totals were above normal (more than 110 percent of normal) over much of the South Island, as well as throughout the Waikato, Taupo, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke's Bay regions. In fact, seasonal sunshine totals exceeded more than 125 percent of normal in the King Country, throughout Westland, and in parts of Canterbury and Otago. It was the sunniest spring on record for Te Kuiti, Turangi and Greymouth.

In contrast, it was quite cloudy in the west of the North Island, from Taranaki through to Wellington, with below normal sunshine totals (less than 90 percent of normal).

Full report

For further information, please contact:

Ms Georgina Griffiths – Climate Scientist
NIWA National Climate Centre – Auckland
Phone: +64 9 375 4506

Dr Andrew Tait – Climate Scientist
NIWA National Climate Centre – Wellington
Phone: +64 4 386 0562
a.tait@niwa.co.nz

Michele Hollis – NIWA Communications Manager
Phone: +64 4 386 0483

Acknowledgement of NIWA as the source is required.