Spring 2013

A warm spring with near normal rainfall for many.

Temperature 

A warm spring for the country, with record or near record -high spring temperatures occurring in many parts of the country, but especially so for the North Island.  Well above average mean temperatures (more than 1.2°C above the spring average) were recorded in parts of Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Nelson and Marlborough.  The nation-wide mean temperature was 0.9°C above the spring average, based on NIWA’s seven-station temperature series, making this the equal third-warmest spring on record since 1909.

Rainfall

Spring rainfall was near normal (between 80 and 120 percent of normal) across many parts of New Zealand. However, rainfall was above normal (more than 120 percent of normal) in parts of the Central Plateau, Wairarapa, Tasman, the Kaikoura Coast, inland Canterbury along the Southern Alps, and western Southland.  Below normal rainfall (less than 80 percent of normal) occurred in parts of Northland, Bay of Plenty, southwest Waikato, Banks Peninsula, coastal mid-Canterbury and Dunedin.

Soil Moisture

As at 1 December 2013, soils were much drier than normal in Northland, Auckland, and Waikato, but much wetter than normal along the southeast of the North Island.  Elsewhere, soils were typically wetter than normal for remaining parts of the North Island, and drier than normal across most of the South Island.

Sunshine

Spring sunshine hours were well above normal (more than 125 percent of spring normal) about northern Fiordland and southern Westland, and above normal (110-125 percent of spring normal) for parts of western Southland, and much of the North Island.  Near normal sunshine hours were experienced in remaining areas of the country (sunshine hours within 10 percent of spring normal).

Overview

Lower pressures than normal dominated the New Zealand region during September and October, particularly to the south of the country. This resulted in more westerly quarter airflows than usual across New Zealand during these months.  These airflows were often very strong, as is typical of the spring months.  Of particular note were two damaging wind events, the first occurring on 10-11 September and the second on 14 October.  These storms were notable because the winds associated with them were particularly strong, and damage was widespread across numerous regions (see highlights and extreme events section for further details).  November was a relatively calm month by comparison.  This was due to pressure anomalies that were strongly positive over the South Island during this time, with such anomalies extending well east, west and south of New Zealand.  Across northern New Zealand, pressure anomalies were below normal.  These regional pressure patterns in November resulted in frequent easterly flows across New Zealand.

Following on from the warmest winter on record, New Zealand also experienced a warm spring.  The nation-wide average temperature in spring 2013 was 13.0°C (0.9°C above the 1971-2000 spring average).  Using NIWA’s seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909, spring 2013 was the equal third-warmest spring on record for New Zealand to date.  It was a particularly warm spring for parts of Hawke’s Bay, where mean temperatures were more than 1.5°C above average.  Well above average temperatures (more than 1.2°C above the spring average) occurred in parts of Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu, and Wairarapa.   Most remaining areas of the North Island recorded above average temperatures (0.5-1.2°C above the spring average), with the exception of the Far North, and parts of Waikato and Wellington where temperatures were near average (within 0.5°C of spring average).  In the South Island, temperatures were above average for many areas, but especially about more western and northern parts.  Temperatures were well above average in parts of Nelson and Marlborough.  In contrast, near average spring temperatures were recorded in some inland and eastern parts of Canterbury, and eastern parts of Otago.

Overall, near normal rainfall for spring was recorded across many parts of New Zealand (between 80 and 120 percent of normal spring rainfall).  However, it was wetter than normal in some parts, especially about the southeast of the North Island and the southwest of the South Island.  Rainfall was above normal (more than 120 percent of normal spring rainfall) in parts of the Central Plateau, Wairarapa, Tasman, the Kaikoura Coast, inland Canterbury along the Southern Alps, and western Southland.  Below normal rainfall (less than 80 percent of normal spring rainfall) occurred in parts of Northland, Bay of Plenty, southwest Waikato, Banks Peninsula, coastal mid-Canterbury and Dunedin.

As at 1 December 2013, soils were much drier than normal in Northland, Auckland, and Waikato, but much wetter than normal along the southeast of the North Island.  Elsewhere, soils were typically wetter than normal for remaining parts of the North Island, and drier than normal across most of the South Island.

Sunshine hours for spring were well above normal (more than 125 percent of spring normal) about northern Fiordland and southern Westland, and above normal (110-125 percent of spring normal) for parts of western Southland, and much of the North Island, north of and including the Wairarapa.  Near normal sunshine hours were experienced in remaining areas of the country (sunshine hours within 10 percent of spring normal).  

Further highlights:

  • The highest temperature was 30.3°C, recorded at Clyde on 19 November.
  • The lowest temperature was -6.4°C, observed at Albert Burn (near Wanaka) on 14 September.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall was 253 mm, recorded at Mount Cook on 10 September. 
  • The highest wind gust was 167 km/hr, at Mt Kaukau, Wellington, on 14 October.
  • Of the six main centres in spring 2013, Auckland was the warmest, Wellington was the wettest, Tauranga was the sunniest, and Dunedin was the coolest, driest, and cloudiest.

Full report

Full details of the Spring 2013 climate summary (PDF 843 KB)

For further information, please contact: 

Dr Brett Mullan

Principal Scientist, Climate Variability and Change, NIWA Wellington

Tel. 04 386 0508