Palmerston North the worst city in New Zealand for sunshine video

Murray Wilson/Stuff

We asked the public what they like about Palmerston North after it was named New Zealand's least sunny city.

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.

Even in 1961 the tourists struggled to get used to Palmerston North's lack of sun. "It's Not Like This At Home!" ran the ...
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Even in 1961 the tourists struggled to get used to Palmerston North's lack of sun. "It's Not Like This At Home!" ran the heading on this Manawatu Standard photo.

The Manawatu centre had a miserable 1645 hours of sun, nearly half of the country's leader, Richmond, which had 2840 hours.

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Climate scientist Nava Fedaeff said Palmerston North usually recorded few hours of sun.

Palmerston North in 2016. Sometimes the clouds brought rain.
Logan Patterson

Palmerston North in 2016. Sometimes the clouds brought rain.

"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.

A typical day on a farm on the outskirts of Palmerston North.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

A typical day on a farm on the outskirts of Palmerston North.

"It was also the fourth wettest November on record, which kind of gives you an idea of why it was so cloudy."

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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.

Palmerston North has its pretty moments, but they tend to feature silver linings rather than golden sunshine.
Murray Wilson/ FAIRFAX NZ

Palmerston North has its pretty moments, but they tend to feature silver linings rather than golden sunshine.

"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."

A cloudy day in Palmerston North for the 37th Jenny Mair Highland Square Day in 2016.
David Unwin/Fairfax NZ.

A cloudy day in Palmerston North for the 37th Jenny Mair Highland Square Day in 2016.

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.

 - Stuff

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