Palmerston North the worst city in New Zealand for sunshine
Sun was a rare commodity in Palmerston North in 2016, with the city confirmed as receiving the lowest amount of rays last year.
The city had its hottest ever year on record, with an average temperature of 14.4 degrees Celsius. But it was almost dead last in the country for amount of sunshine, according to Niwa.
Of 51 centres that recorded sunshine hours, Palmerston North came in second to last – narrowly beating Mt Cook, which was the lowest in the country.
The Manawatu centre had a miserable 1645 hours of sun, nearly half of the country's leader, Richmond, which had 2840 hours.
Climate scientist Nava Fedaeff said Palmerston North usually recorded few hours of sun.
"Being on the western side of the ranges there, prevailing winds from the west are forced to rise to go over the ranges and causes cloudy skies. So it's a cloudy place. Nothing unusual there."
Last year was the lowest since 2011, which had 1632.2 hours.
Fedaeff said Palmerston North also had its cloudiest November on record in 2016, with just 55 per cent of the usual sunshine hours.
"It was also the fourth wettest November on record, which kind of gives you an idea of why it was so cloudy."
Massey University School of Psychology associate professor Dr Sarb Johal said sun exposure was linked to serotonin levels in the brain.
Serotonin was a mood-lifting chemical.
"That seems to be related to the amount of sun you are exposed to."
Duration of sun exposure also played a role.
His advice to the people of Palmerston North was simple. "You might want to travel, or when there is a sunny spot, get exposure to that. If you are in a dark room, try to get to a bit of the room with more exposure."
Johal said there was some residual exposure on cloudy days, but it was "nowhere near as good" as direct sun.
He said people needed to balance getting sunlight with not getting sunburnt.
However, there was some good news – despite a lack of sun, temperatures were up.
New Zealand experienced its hottest ever year , with Whanganui and Levin also notching up individual temperature records.
Across the country, 33 locations had their warmest years on record.
Meanwhile, seven months of the year featured above-average temperatures.
Niwa principal scientist Chris Brandolino said the temperature increase was the result of three elements.
"Unusually warm" ocean temperatures, winds blowing from a warm direction and global warming all contributed.
"That adds up to a record-breaking year."
Niwa's outlook for the rest of the summer predicts Manawatu will have an average summer, with a 40 per cent chance of normal rainfall, but also a 40 per cent chance of summer being drier than normal.