Spring 2010

Sunny & dry in southwest; mild & wet for northeast.

  • Rainfall: Driest spring on record in parts of Northland and Auckland. Below normal rainfall in Nelson, south Canterbury, Lakes District and parts of central Otago and Fiordland. Near normal rainfall over remainder of country, except for above normal spring falls recorded in Waiouru, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.
  • Sunshine: Record high spring sunshine in western North Island, south Canterbury and the Clutha. Above normal spring sunshine totals right across New Zealand.
  • Temperatures: Above average spring temperatures across most of South Island, as well as in Bay of Plenty and eastern Waikato, and parts of Taranaki and Manawatu. Near average elsewhere.

Anticyclones ('highs') dominated New Zealand's climate during October and November 2010, following a rather stormy September. Mean sea level pressures for the season overall were at least 4hPa higher than usual over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand. The prevalence of highs during spring produced a sunny season in many regions, and a much drier than normal spring for Auckland and Northland, Nelson, South Canterbury, the Lakes District, central Otago, and parts of Fiordland. By the end of spring, the dry conditions, elevated sunshine and above average temperatures had resulted in severe soil moisture deficits (more than 130 mm of deficit) in parts of Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Nelson, Marlborough, the Lakes District and central Otago, with significant soil moisture deficits (more than 110 mm of deficit) in many other parts of the North Island, Canterbury and Otago.

Spring rainfall totals were record low in Northland and Auckland, following three dry months there. Seasonal rainfall was also below normal (between 50 and 80 percent of normal) in Nelson, south Canterbury, the Lakes District, and parts of Fiordland and central Otago. In most other regions of the country, spring rainfalls were in the near normal range (between 80 and 120 percent of normal), reflecting the mix of the very wet September and extremely dry months of October and November. The exceptions were around Waiouru, and in parts of Gisborne and Hawkes Bay, which recorded above normal rainfalls (between 120 and 150 percent of spring normal), mostly due to a significant event on October 13-15th.

The prevalence of highs during spring produced clear skies and a very sunny season in many regions. Sunshine hours were record high in the western North Island, south Canterbury and in the Clutha, and were above normal (between 110 and 125 percent of normal) right across the remainder of the country.

Spring mean temperatures were above average (more than 0.5°C above spring average) across the South Island (except the northwest region), as well as in the Bay of Plenty, eastern Waikato, Taranaki and Manawatu. Elsewhere, spring temperatures were near average (within 0.5°C of average). The New Zealand national average temperature for spring was 12.4°C (0.3°C above the 1971–2000 spring average).

Further highlights:

  • The highest temperature recorded was 32.9°C recorded at Waiau on November 29th (near-record).
  • The lowest temperature recorded was -6.2°C observed at Lake Tekapo on September 22nd.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall of 151 mm occurred at Patutahi (Gisborne) on October 13th (a new spring record there).
  • The highest gust was 204 km/hr recorded at Cape Turnagain on September 23rd.
  • Of the six main centres, for spring as a whole, Christchurch was the sunniest, Dunedin the driest and coolest, Wellington the wettest, and Tauranga the warmest.

Full report

For further information, please contact:

Ms Georgina Griffiths – Climate Scientist– NIWA National Climate Centre, Auckland
Tel. (09) 375 4506 or (027) 293 6545

Michele Hollis, NIWA Communications Manager
Tel. (04) 386-0483 or (027) 255 2500