Dry May for Canterbury

01:20, Jun 05 2012

Canterbury had less than a quarter of its normal May rainfall last month, with Christchurch having its second driest May on record as just 11mm of rain fell.

The month was also extremely sunny in the west of both islands, NIWA's climate summary for May shows.

The South Island was generally dry with rainfall around half the May normal in Nelson and Marlborough and across much of Westland and Otago.

Northern Hawke's Bay and coastal Bay of Plenty had a wet May, while rainfall was below normal in Gisborne, southern Hawke's Bay, and much of the Tararua district.

It was the sunniest May on record for New Plymouth and Queenstown. The former had 184 sunshine hours, 128 per cent of normal, while the latter had 152 sunshine hours, 166 per cent of normal.

Sunshine hours exceeded 125 per cent of normal in western regions between Hamilton and the Kapiti Coast, as well as Westland, Fiordland and Southland.

Sunshine totals were also above normal - between 110 and 124 per cent of usual - in most other parts of the country. Exceptions were Canterbury, Gisborne and Nelson, where sunshine was near normal.

Mean temperatures for May were generally down - between 0.5 degrees celsius and 1.2 degrees celsius below May average - across much of the North Island, as well as the north and east of the South Island.

Temperatures were near average in the southwest of the country, as well as locally around Christchurch, and in parts of Auckland and Northland and coastal Bay of Plenty.

Among the six main centres, Tauranga was by far the sunniest with 204 sunshine hours, followed by Auckland with 168, Hamilton with 161, Christchurch with 145, Wellington with 144, and Dunedin with 120.

Tauranga was also the wettest with 114mm of rain, with Hamilton and Wellington next on 107mm, then Auckland with 91mm, and Dunedin with 37mm, while Christchurch barely got damp.