Spring 2012

A sunny and cool spring for many regions.  Rather dry for much of North Island and Marlborough. 

Sunshine

Unusually sunny for most of the country between Waikato and south Canterbury.  Records broken in Gisborne, New Plymouth and Paraparaumu.

Temperature

A cooler than usual spring for much of the country. 

Rainfall 

Extremely dry for many regions of the North Island, also Marlborough.  In contrast, a wetter than usual spring across the southern half of the South Island.

Soil moisture

Unusually low soil moisture levels for the time of year across much of the North Island (except Gisborne and northern Hawkes Bay), as well as Nelson and Buller.  Wetter than usual soils in south Canterbury.  Close to normal soil moisture levels elsewhere.  

Overview

Spring was characterised by much lower pressures than normal to the south and east of New Zealand, and higher pressures than normal over the Tasman Sea, which caused a predominantly southwest flow over the country for the season. This southwesterly airflow produced a somewhat cool spring for most of the country, with dry conditions across many North Island regions, as well as Marlborough and the Kaikoura Coast.

It was an unusually sunny spring for the regions between Waikato and south Canterbury.  Many locations in the central and southern North Island, as well as the northern South Island, experienced record or near-record sunshine.  Notably, Gisborne, New Plymouth, and Paraparaumu all experienced their sunniest spring on record.  Northland, Auckland, and Otago experienced near normal sunshine hours.  In contrast, Fiordland was cloudier than usual for spring.

 The enhanced southwesterly winds produced a cooler than usual spring in many regions of the country.  Well below average spring temperatures (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C below spring average) were observed across the Waikato, extending southwards to Mt. Ruapehu, as well as for coastal parts of southern Hawkes Bay and the Tararua District.  Elsewhere across the country, spring temperatures were generally around 0.5°C below the seasonal average.   The nation-wide average temperature in spring 2012 was 11.8°C (0.3°C below the 1971-2000 spring average), using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909. 

It was an extremely dry spring for many North Island regions, as well as Marlborough and the Kaikoura Coast.  Spring rainfall totals ranged between 50 percent (only half) and 60 percent of spring normal in southern Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Wellington, between Wanganui and the Kapiti Coast, as well as in the Bay of Plenty and Blenheim.  It was the driest spring on record for Wanganui and at Wellington Airport.   It was also rather dry (with between 60 and 80 percent of spring normal rainfall) across much of the remainder of the North Island (the exceptions being Northland, Taranaki, Waikato to the Central Plateau, as well as Gisborne, which experienced closer to normal spring rainfall), as well as in Nelson, Marlborough, the Kaikoura Coast and north Canterbury. In contrast, it was a wetter than usual spring across much of the southern half of the South Island, with above normal rainfall observed (exceeding 120 percent of spring normal). 

At the end of spring, soils were unusually dry for the time of year across much of the North Island (except for Gisborne and northern Hawkes Bay), as well as Nelson and Buller.  In contrast, soils remain wetter than usual for the time of year across much of south Canterbury.  Elsewhere, levels were closer to normal.

Full report

Spring 2012 climate summary (PDF 615 KB)

Further highlights:

  • The highest temperature was 30.1°C, at Blenheim on 25 November.
  • The lowest temperature was -8.3°C, at Lake Tekapo on 14 October.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall experienced was 165 mm at Milford Sound on 14 September.
  • The highest gust recorded was 185 km/hr at Cape Turnagain, on both 18 and 25 October.
  • Of the six main centres in spring 2012, Auckland was the warmest, Hamilton the wettest, Tauranga was the sunniest (followed closely by Wellington), Christchurch the driest, and Dunedin the coolest and cloudiest.

For further information, please contact:

Ms Georgina Griffiths

Climate Scientist – NIWA National Climate Centre, Auckland

Tel. 027 293 6545 (mobile)

Petra Chappell

Climate Analyst - NIWA National Climate Centre, Auckland

Tel. 09 375 2052