Spring 2011

Extremely dry Taupo north; wet eastern South Island.

  • Rainfall: Extremely dry north of Taupo, with about half of normal spring rainfall.  Very dry in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, and along the West Coast of the South Island. Extremely wet for Southland, Otago, and Canterbury.
  • Soil moisture levels: Significant deficit north of Taupo, as well as Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, and central Otago, at the end of spring.
  • Temperatures: Above average in the northeastern North Island.  Below average for the southeastern North Island, as well as Canterbury.  Near average elsewhere.
  • Sunshine: A sunny spring in eastern regions; near normal spring sunshine elsewhere.

 Stronger than normal southwest winds affected New Zealand during spring 2011, squeezed between higher than normal pressures over the Tasman Sea and lower pressures to the southeast of the country.

It was an extremely dry spring north of Taupo, with about half of normal spring rainfall observed in Taupo, parts of the Waikato, Coromandel, north Auckland and Northland. It was the driest spring on record for Matamata and Leigh.  Spring rainfalls were also below normal (between 50 and 79 percent of spring normal) in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, and much of the West Coast of the South Island.  In contrast, spring rainfalls were above normal in Southland, Otago and Canterbury, as well as in some locations between New Plymouth and Levin (with totals more than 120 percent of spring normal).  Spring rainfall totals were generally close to seasonal normal elsewhere (between 80 and 119 percent of normal).

By the end of spring, significant soil moisture deficit (more than 110 mm of deficit) was observed in regions north of Taupo, also Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Marlborough, and central Otago.

Mean temperatures in spring were above average (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C above spring average) in eastern Northland, Coromandel, and Bay of Plenty.  Regions which experienced below average spring temperatures (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C below average) were around the Central Plateau, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Wellington, and Canterbury.  Elsewhere, for much of the country, temperatures were within 0.5°C of spring average.  The nation-wide average temperature in spring was 11.9°C (0.2°C below the 1971–2000 spring average) using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.

Spring 2011 was a sunny month in eastern regions of both islands, with above normal sunshine totals (between 110 and 125 percent of spring normal), consistent with the frequent southwest winds during the spring.  Elsewhere, sunshine totals were generally near normal (between 90 and 110 percent of spring normal). 

Further highlights:

  • The highest temperature was 29.5°C, observed at Middlemarch on 27 November.
  • The lowest temperature was -6.4°C, at Mt Cook on 5 November.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall experienced was 166 mm at North Egmont on 3 October.
  • The highest gust recorded was 183 km/hr at Southwest Cape, Stewart Island, on 24 October.
  • Of the six main centres in spring 2011, Tauranga was the warmest and sunniest, Wellington the wettest, Christchurch the driest, Hamilton the cloudiest, and Dunedin the coolest. 

Full report

Spring 2011 climate summary (PDF 87 KB)

For further information, please contact:

Ms Georgina Griffiths – Climate Scientist– NIWA National Climate Centre, Auckland,

Tel (09) 375 4506 (office DDI), Mobile (027) 2936545

Dr James Renwick, NIWA Principal Scientist, Climate Variability & Change

Mobile (021) 178 5550, Tel (04) 386 0343 (office DDI)