Wellington's bummer summer: fewest 'beach days' in 30 years

Wellington on January 22, in the middle of a week that saw three separate storm systems dump rain and gale force winds ...
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

Wellington on January 22, in the middle of a week that saw three separate storm systems dump rain and gale force winds on the city.

The summer of 2017 will not be remembered fondly by the people of Wellington.

Regardless of whether you look at sunshine hours, wind speeds, rainfall or temperature - the capital's summer has been un-arguably the worst in years.

Beach-goers have particular reason to moan, with MetService data showing January had the fewest "beach days" of any summer in the past 30 years.

Story of two summers
From that to this ...

Defined as days with more than eight hours of cloudless sunshine and a temperature greater than 17 degrees Celsius, Wellingtonians enjoyed only eight beach days - a poor show for a month that usually serves up twice that amount.

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That statistic will not come as a complete shock to those in Wellington who experienced three significant lows in the space of a week in January when gale-force winds disrupted flights, ferry crossings and public transport.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said perceptions of this summer had not been helped by the previous two summers in Wellington being stand-outs for sunshine.

"Even looking at the long-term average, this hasn't been a good summer," she said. "The chances of getting a warm day with no rain and light winds has been way lower than normal."

Met Service Meteorologist Lisa Murray says Wellingtonians should make the most of any nice day they get before summer ...
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Met Service Meteorologist Lisa Murray says Wellingtonians should make the most of any nice day they get before summer ends because there isn't going to be many of them.

Anyone brave enough to make it to the beach in Wellington this summer will have, more often than not, been greeted by strong winds and unusually chilly sea temperatures, Murray said.

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"In general, over the South Island and lower-North Island they have been 2C below average."


 

NO SUNSHINE, NO CUSTOMERS

Some Wellington businesses that depend on the sun shining have not faired so well as a result.

Last year Crocodile Bikes owner Tony Christie said there was only a handful of days in January when his Oriental Bay bike hire business was either extremely slow or closed. This year that number was about 15.

Tony Christie, owner of Crocodile Bikes, has suffered from a particularly poor summer in Wellington so far.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Tony Christie, owner of Crocodile Bikes, has suffered from a particularly poor summer in Wellington so far.

"With the Wellington public if it's a bad day they don't come out, and if it's a good day they all come out."

Karl Tiefenbacher, managing director of gourmet icecream and coffee retailer Kaffee Eis, said earnings across his four stores this summer had dipped by 33 per cent compared to last year.

"It's just a combination of more rain, more wind, and last summer we had a real treat. I've lived in Wellington all my life and that was one of the best ones I can remember," he said.

Downtown Wellington on January 4, when there were more winter jackets and umbrellas on show that T-shirts and shorts.
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

Downtown Wellington on January 4, when there were more winter jackets and umbrellas on show that T-shirts and shorts.

"I think we had this fake hope that summers were improving, but we're just back to where we were two or three years ago."

INDOOR ATTRACTIONS DOING WELL

But it's not all bad news on the retail front, provided you have a roof over your head.

Wreda chief executive Chris Whelan says tourists have been doing indoor activities rather than going to the beach.
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

Wreda chief executive Chris Whelan says tourists have been doing indoor activities rather than going to the beach.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (Wreda) chief executive Chris Whelan said Te Papa has had one of its best Januarys, with about 197,000 people having popped into the museum for a look.

Wellington's $2.3 billion tourism industry, in general, had not suffered that badly from the shocker summer, Whelan said. TSB Arena, Michael Fowler Centre and the St James Theatre all enjoyed their best January on record.

Visitor spending in Wellington grew by three per cent in December, he said.

Hawke's Bay Tourism General Manager Annie Dundas says a lot of Wellingtonians have been heading up the road for a bit of sun.
SUPPLIED

Hawke's Bay Tourism General Manager Annie Dundas says a lot of Wellingtonians have been heading up the road for a bit of sun.

"The reality is that a bit of rain and wind just doesn't stop people coming to visit."

Other parts of the country have also benefited from Wellingtonians escaping in the search of sun.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said accommodation and activity providers had seen a marked increase in cliental from the capital.

"We have had, pretty much, record occupancy for January. I think that's a combination of a number of things but weather is a big contributor."

MORE GLOOM ON THE HORIZON

Wellington's weather is not expected to improve much either, with the same patterns expected to continue for the first two weeks of February.

The one faint glimmer of hope is Waitangi Weekend. Saturday is expected to be fine with a high of 21C and Sunday could get warmer still.

The region's luck fails on Monday with cloud, gale-force winds and drizzle developing in the evening.

 - Stuff

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