Sun shines on New Zealand in 2015 as records set across the country

The Wither Hills, in Blenheim, look dry and barren, as Marlborough heads towards the lowest rainfall since 1969.

The Wither Hills, in Blenheim, look dry and barren, as Marlborough heads towards the lowest rainfall since 1969.

It was a sunny year by historical standards across New Zealand with nine locations experiencing their sunniest year on record, according to the NIWA Annual Climate Summary for 2015.

In the South Island towns of Dunedin, Greymouth and Cheviot, sunshine hours were up by 25 per cent or more than the annual average.

Other places to set records for sunshine hours included Lake Tekapo, Kaitaia, Te Kuiti and Dunedin, showing the sun was spread around the country.

Overall Blenheim claimed the crown of sunshine capital, pipping Bay of Plenty town Whakatane for the title with 2814 sunshine hours.

NIWA summary shows 2015 dominated by warm, dry days
If 2015's weather was so average, why so many extremes?
Wellington's year of extremes, from hot dry days to fatal floods
It's official: Blenheim, sunniest town in New Zealand


Amongst the six biggest cities, Auckland was the warmest with an average temperature of 16C, almost one degree warmer than Tauranga on 15.2C and 0.6C above the annual average for Auckland. Dunedin was the coldest with an average temperature of 11.2C. All six main centres were hotter than their annual average.

Tauranga had the most sunshine hours of the main centres, clocking up exactly its annual average of 2341 hours, while all other five main centres had above average sunshine hours in 2015.

About an hour's drive from sunny Tauranga the outlook was far less bright in Hamilton which experienced the least sunshine hours of the main centres and had the most rain. In all 1147mm of rain fell in Hamilton in 2015, significantly more than all of the other main cities.

Dark clouds and rain over Hamilton in October 2015.
Bruce Mercer

Dark clouds and rain over Hamilton in October 2015.

Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch all had rainfall well below the historical annual average. Christchurch's 455mm was the lowest and just 77 per cent of the average annual rainfall. In Wellington that figure was 74 per cent and in Tauranga it was 71 per cent.

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It was also a year of extremes - in addition to many locations recording highest sunshine hours on record, several also saw new one-day monthly records set for rainfall in March, April, May and June.

Otaihanga Domain, Paraparaumu.

Otaihanga Domain, Paraparaumu.

The 116mm that fell on Paraparaumu on May 13, was the most in a single day in any month since records began in 1951, while Levin, Hokitika, Whanganui, Dunedin and Lumsden all experienced daily record rainfalls for June in 2015.

June was also a month where a number of locations experienced unseasonably warm weather, with no less than 10 locations setting new temperature records for the months of June in 2015. With Paraparaumu amongst them on June 2, just a few weeks after it had experienced its all-time record rainfall for day.

At the other end of spectrum the temperature got down to -21C at the Tara Hills in Otago on June 24 - the fourth lowest temperature ever recorded anywhere in New Zealand.

 - Stuff


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