Cool change will give brief respite to scorched farms

After days of stunning sunshine and balmy temperatures, the golden weather is taking a short break - but it'll be back.

The Wellington Sevens was the main beneficiary of the weather windfall but tomorrow cool southerlies and showers are due to sweep in overnight.

That will break up the high the country has been asking in - but the beaming sunshine should be back on track by Waitangi Day on Wednesday.

Farmers in Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa are used to battling big dries over summer - nevertheless forecast rain showers are unlikely to penetrate moisture-deprived soil. Wairarapa is under a restricted fire season and Hawke's Bay has a total fire ban.

MetService forecaster Philippa Murdoch said although rain would arrive on Monday it would be mainly light, largely scattered along the east coast, and would begin clearing again by Tuesday.

The forecast is good for Waitangi Day on Wednesday, with the tail end of the cool, damp front expected to clear in the morning to make way for sunny spells and temperatures in the low 20 degrees Celsius by afternoon.

Heavy rain might develop on the West Coast tomorrow before reaching Nelson and Taranaki on Monday.

A strong, much cooler, southerly change will then sweep north over the country on the back of the rain, bringing showers to many places.

A new high will build over the South Island on Tuesday, spanning western regions of the North Island in time for Waitangi Day, bringing a return to dry and settled conditions.

Regions from Gisborne to Wairarapa should see lingering showers for much of the day, with cloudy spells along the east coasts of both islands.

Temperatures will also be cooled by the southerly flow, and are expected to be in the high teens to low 20s.

Sunshine figures hit record highs in Christchurch in January, breaking a 50-year record by about seven hours - while an unofficial gauge in the Upper Hutt suburb of Trentham clocked a staggering 318 hours of sunshine for the month.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is forecasting weather as usual for the next three months, with average rainfalls and temperatures on the horizon.

The Dominion Post