October colder than usual - Niwa

It was a cold October with the nation-wide temperature average falling to below 12 degrees C - nearly half a degree lower than the normal October average, says the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

Niwa said last month was also a stormy one. More low pressure fronts affected New Zealand than usual and brought with them frequent southwest winds.

The cooler temperatures were most keenly felt in the south and southwest of the South Island, whereas the winds made for a very dry October throughout the east coast of the North Island.

"Well below average temperatures - around 1.2C below the October average - were observed over the south and west of the South Island, as well as between Mt Ruapehu and Hamilton and including inland Bay of Plenty, reflecting the frequent southwest winds during the month.

"For north Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough, the southwest North Island between Wellington and Taranaki, and for the north and east of the North Island, temperatures were generally near average - within 0.5C of the October average," a spokeswoman said.

Niwa said the nation-wide average temperature in October 2012 was 11.8C - about 0.4C below the 1971-2000 October average.

The threat of drought has already begun in parts of the North Island.

Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa all recorded drier soils than normal for this time of year.

Soil moisture levels were also below normal for the eastern Bay of Plenty, from Auckland to Whangarei, in Central Otago, and around Whanganui.

Niwa had already predicted the next three months over summer will be a hot and dry.

But despite the cooler climate last month, bigger sunshine totals were recorded for most of the North Island and Canterbury, with some regions seeing a 124 per cent increase on the normal rates for October.


* The highest temperature was 26.8C, observed at Gisborne on October 27.

* The lowest temperature was -8.3C, recorded at Lake Tekapo on October 14.

* The highest 1-day rainfall experienced was 150mm at North Egmont on October 13.

* The highest gust recorded was 185kmh at Cape Turnagain, on October 18 and 25.

* Of the six main centres in October 2012, Christchurch was the driest, Hamilton the wettest, Dunedin the coolest and also the cloudiest; Tauranga the sunniest, and Auckland the warmest.