NZ experiencing winter without bite

New Zealand is basking in a winter without bite.

While many will relish the unusually warm start to the coldest season, it is bad news for North Island skiers with Mt Ruapehu temperatures on average 2.6 degrees Celsius higher than they would normally be at this point in June.

Niwa figures - which reach up to between June 16 and 18 - showed that Wellington was easily ''well above'' average, forecaster Chris Brandolino said.

A lack of southerlies was the major cause.

Kelburn had an average temperature so far in June this year of 11.8C (2.1C above normal).

Wellington Airport was 11.9C on average this June (1.4C higher than normal).

Nearly all of New Zealand was ''well above'' average with places that were simply ''above'' average  ''the exception, not the rule'', Brandolino said.

Under Niwa guidelines, temperatures between 0.5C and 1.19C above average were described as ''above average'', while places reaching 1.2C-plus higher than average was ''well above''.

Of particular note was Palmerston North, which was 2.8C higher than average, Napier at 1.9C more than normal, Matamata at 2.3C more, and Whakatane which was 2.2C warmer than average.

Mt Ruapehu, which was measured near the Chateau at the bottom of the road to Whakapapa ski field, so far averaged 6.2C this winter - 2.6C more than average.

This year's warm start to winter comes after last year's warmest winter on record. Last year was the third warmest since records began more than a century ago.

Earlier this month, Niwa predicted a warm winter for the lower North Island as easterly winds and mild ocean temperatures combined.

International guidance indicated El Nino was now the most likely outcome for winter.

Brandolino said if El Nino developed as expected in late winter and early spring, the country could expect a windy, wet spring and summer in the west, with drought conditions in the east.

He today warned that while winter was expected to be warm there would still be cold snaps.

True to form for this winter, MetService is forecasting a fine day in Wellington today with a 12C high.

Tomorrow should have rain and wind but the temperature should reach 15C and Sunday would clear for a 13C high.

The Dominion Post