Photo essay: The whole is greater than the summer of fits and starts

SEPTEMBER 25: We turn our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time and summer. And in central Auckland, a 4-year-old ...
CHRIS McKEEN / FAIRFAX NZ

SEPTEMBER 25: We turn our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time and summer. And in central Auckland, a 4-year-old princess named Sophia Williams splashes in the puddles left by a wintry downpour.

As a potential tropical cyclone bears down upon New Zealand this week, there are those (Wellingtonians, in particular) who will bemoan a miserable summer.

Don't.

For as Aristotle mused (while slapping sunscreen on the skin left exposed by his swimming toga): The whole is greater than the summer of fits and starts.

SEPTEMBER 25: In sunny Nelson, we sent photographer Braden Fastier down to the beach to take pictures of families ...
BRADEN FASTIER

SEPTEMBER 25: In sunny Nelson, we sent photographer Braden Fastier down to the beach to take pictures of families frolicking on the sand. Instead, he cowered in his car as he emailed through startling images of the rain smashing against his windscreen. "Looking for a bit more colour," he emailed. "If I find a kid running through daffodils, I'll let you know."

This has been a mad, bad, beautiful season. 2016 was the hottest year in more than a century. And it culminated in a 30cm snowfall at Cardrona Skifield, floods on the West Coast and hailstorms in Nelson, all under the biggest, most lush and golden supermoon in nearly 70 years. 

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The New Year dawned and brought with it a weather bomb in Wellington, freak gales in Auckland, drought in Northland, and the inauguration of Donald Trump.

OCTOBER 7: Under that hail is believed to be some garden furniture, in sunny Mapua, Nelson.
HENNY VAN LAANEN

OCTOBER 7: Under that hail is believed to be some garden furniture, in sunny Mapua, Nelson.

There were highs, and there were lows. Such is weather.

The season started on September 25, the day we turned our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time and summer. The supermarkets restocked the chillers with salad greens and replaced shelves of red wines with sauvignon blanc. And in central Auckland, our photographer Chris McKeen came across a 4-year-old princess named Sophia Williams, pink umbrella aloft, splashing in the puddles left by a wintry downpour.

In sunny Nelson, we sent his colleague Braden Fastier down to the beach to take pictures of families frolicking on the sand. Instead, he cowered in his car as he emailed through startling images of the grey rain smashing against his windscreen.  "Looking  for a bit more colour," he emailed. "If I find a kid running through daffodils, I'll let you know."

NOVEMBER 16: Queens Park Groundsman Jason Osborne waits for the pitch to dry out after heavy overnight rain halted the ...
JOHN HAWKINS / FAIRFAX NZ

NOVEMBER 16: Queens Park Groundsman Jason Osborne waits for the pitch to dry out after heavy overnight rain halted the Otago v Canterbury Plunket Shield game in Invercargill.

In Mapua the following month, Henny van Laanen took a similarly colourful photo: It was all white. It was hail. There were unconfirmed reports of garden furniture trapped underneath.

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And in a small office at Parliament, an MP sat alone beneath a mop of hair uncannily reminiscent of another politician on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Peter Dunne, the leader of the one-man United Future Party, had a plan. He would give back summer to the kids. Peter Dunne was going to shift the school holidays back to February – that, he believed, was when summer really started.

On December 15, astronomers, astrologers and a few asthmatics gazed to the heavens at a large golden orb, the biggest supermoon in nearly 70 years. And in Milford Sound, a few tuatara watched perplexed as the Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to ever visit New Zealand, motored majestically up the remote fiord. Its visit to Dunedin was cancelled due to a bad weather forecast – as we say, weather brings its highs and lows.

DECEMBER 15: Never mind a blue moon, this is the biggest supermoon in nearly 70 years, photographed over Christchurch ...
DAVID HARDY

DECEMBER 15: Never mind a blue moon, this is the biggest supermoon in nearly 70 years, photographed over Christchurch Airport.

On December 25, astrologers, tasseographers and home cooks marvelled at another alignment of the planets. Christmas Day dawned sunny, and the last of the Oamaru Jersey Benne potatoes lined up with the best of the asparagus and the first of the summer's sweet corn to make for the perfect Kiwi festive lunch.

With the New Year, though, came the wrath of the Gods. The thunder roared, the once golden heavens were rent asunder, and the horses and jockeys at the Roxburgh trots got quite muddy.

In Wellington, Paige Kilduff, 13, had been enjoying the Lyall Bay waves with her dad when dark clouds blanketed the sun. The wind tore her surfboard from her hands and hurled it down the beach.

DECEMBER 15: Three-year-old puppy Ailbe is out for a, evening walk on Oreti Beach. He likes sunsets.
ROISIN CHILTON

DECEMBER 15: Three-year-old puppy Ailbe is out for a, evening walk on Oreti Beach. He likes sunsets.

And on the hill above the city, Peter Dunne nodded knowingly. His time had come. Gather round, he murmured, for I am Ra, the sun god.

At the Motueka dragway on January 7, a race car burst into flames. Then in Cust in north Canterbury, the hay bales on the back of a farm truck spontaneously ignited, burning with such heat that the very steel of the truck's exhaust pipes melted.  At Mangawhai, the water tanks ran dry. One local filled his tank with 10,000 litres before going away for the weekend, then returned to find it had all been stolen. The townsfolk tapped the fire reserves, leaving the firefighters no water with which to fight their fires.

Angry fires fuelled the protesters at Waitangi, too, as they awaited the arrival of Prime Minister Bill English. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it, so instead they threw fishing lines off the one-way bridge to the Treaty Grounds in the hope of catching the odd spotty, stripped down for a swim at Te Tii Beach, then relaxed outside their tents to Bob Marley (who would have celebrated his 72nd birthday that day), as they enjoyed the warm weather that embraced the entire nation.

DECEMBER 21: The Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to ever visit New Zealand, arrives into Milford Sound. A ...
BARRY HARCOURT / FAIRFAX NZ

DECEMBER 21: The Ovation of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to ever visit New Zealand, arrives into Milford Sound. A visit to Dunedin was cancelled due to a bad weather forecast.

It was even sunny for a couple of days in Wellington. In his office at Parliament, Peter Dunne considered whether he might be the inspiration for Crowded House: "Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you," he hummed.

He dialled Mike Hosking's number: "Mike," he said. "I have a dream. I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where school and Parliament rise in February, and they can go to the beach when it's actually sunny."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

DECEMBER 25: Our photographers seem to have all taken the day off, so here's a photo of the editor's son's Christmas ...
JONATHAN MILNE

DECEMBER 25: Our photographers seem to have all taken the day off, so here's a photo of the editor's son's Christmas lunch. Yes, that really is tofu.

This weekend, the New South Wales towns of Singleton and Cessnock are predicted to reach 46C, prompting warning of a potential "catastrophic" fire danger.

But to the north-east of New Zealand, another threat looms. Air New Zealand is rushing to fly tourists out of Fiji as a potential cyclone brews. It will hit Fiji first, and then New Zealand could be in for a battering.

"When a low comes in from the north it's always a bit like balancing an egg on a roof," says forecaster Philip Duncan of Weatherwatch. "It will often roll down one side or the other, but every now and then they can sit in the middle – those are the lows that are more likely to bring heavy rain and strong winds to northern New Zealand."

DECEMBER 26: At Maraetai Beach in Auckland, a wind surfer paddles his board back to shore after the wind fell away - and ...
CHRIS McKEEN / FAIRFAX NZ

DECEMBER 26: At Maraetai Beach in Auckland, a wind surfer paddles his board back to shore after the wind fell away - and he fell off.

Again with those highs and lows ...

 

DECEMBER 26: Birthday girl Jessica and older sister Kate leave their grandfather to look after the towels and the camera ...
RAY RUSSELL

DECEMBER 26: Birthday girl Jessica and older sister Kate leave their grandfather to look after the towels and the camera while they go in for a Boxing Day dip at Foxton beach.

DECEMBER 30: Taipara Hurinui, 14, enjoys the cool water at Horseshoe Bend on a hot summer day in Manawatu.
DAVID UNWIN / FAIRFAX NZ

DECEMBER 30: Taipara Hurinui, 14, enjoys the cool water at Horseshoe Bend on a hot summer day in Manawatu.

DECEMBER 30: On the left, a sun umbrella. On the right, a sunbather. Up above Hahei Beach in Coromandel, a scorching sun.
DOMINICO ZAPATA / FAIRFAX NZ

DECEMBER 30: On the left, a sun umbrella. On the right, a sunbather. Up above Hahei Beach in Coromandel, a scorching sun.

DECEMBER 30: German visitors Paulina Schwab, Mary-Sophie Cremer and Leah Schneeklodth suddenly found themselves in more ...
DOMINICO ZAPATA / FAIRFAX NZ

DECEMBER 30: German visitors Paulina Schwab, Mary-Sophie Cremer and Leah Schneeklodth suddenly found themselves in more hot water than they could handle when their neighbours offered them a spot in their hole.

JANUARY 1: This photo of Isabel, 7, and Emily, 3, at a New Year's Day picnic may be taken with an Instagram filter. Or ...
TERRY MARSHALL

JANUARY 1: This photo of Isabel, 7, and Emily, 3, at a New Year's Day picnic may be taken with an Instagram filter. Or it could just be that Leithfield really is that bright and sunny.

JANUARY 2: Whangamata Surf Club hosted Surfboat Spectacular with poor weather failing to dampen the spirits of the teams.
TOM LEE / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 2: Whangamata Surf Club hosted Surfboat Spectacular with poor weather failing to dampen the spirits of the teams.

JANUARY 4: At Roxburgh trots, Blair Orange drove Spotlight The Valley through atrocious weather conditions to the win.
TAYLER STRONG / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 4: At Roxburgh trots, Blair Orange drove Spotlight The Valley through atrocious weather conditions to the win.

JANUARY 4: Do you know who the hooded man in this photo is? Because his sinister image has now been published so many ...
MONIQUE FORD/FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 4: Do you know who the hooded man in this photo is? Because his sinister image has now been published so many times that he has become the hooded face of Wellington's summer. He can probably retire on the royalties from this picture.

JANUARY 4: Steven Kilduff with his surfer kids Sam, 11 and Paige, 13 struggle out of the water as a mid-afternoon squall ...
ROSS GIBLIN / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 4: Steven Kilduff with his surfer kids Sam, 11 and Paige, 13 struggle out of the water as a mid-afternoon squall hits Lyall Bay in Wellington.

JANUARY 6: Kayakers paddle past Apple Tree Bay in the Abel Tasman National Park with a storm looming in the background.
PHILLIP ROLLO / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 6: Kayakers paddle past Apple Tree Bay in the Abel Tasman National Park with a storm looming in the background.

JANUARY 7: The action gets too hot for one of the entrants at the Motueka Dragway meeting, with an engine fire causing ...
SALIMAN GRIFFITH

JANUARY 7: The action gets too hot for one of the entrants at the Motueka Dragway meeting, with an engine fire causing damage that will cost thousands of dollars to repair.

JANUARY 9: Sunrise at Totaranui Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand, the morning after the big storm.
Ursula Perreten

JANUARY 9: Sunrise at Totaranui Beach in the Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand, the morning after the big storm.

JANUARY 27: Luke Johnstone makes sand castles in the air at Waihi Beach.
DOUG DODDS

JANUARY 27: Luke Johnstone makes sand castles in the air at Waihi Beach.

JANUARY 28: A fire in Cust, north Canterbury, is hot enough to melt the steel of the exhaust pipes behind the cab of ...
MATTHEW SALMONS / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 28: A fire in Cust, north Canterbury, is hot enough to melt the steel of the exhaust pipes behind the cab of this hay truck.

JANUARY 29: Matt Gardner and Lynda Williamson enjoy the sound of 'The Unexpected Crossroads'  at Access Manawatu's ...
WARWICK SMITH / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 29: Matt Gardner and Lynda Williamson enjoy the sound of 'The Unexpected Crossroads' at Access Manawatu's Sounds of Summer concert series. The previous two concerts had been performed in the Access radio station studio due to inclement weather.

JANUARY 31: Oakura Classic ultimate frisbee competition organiser John Fernando gets in some early practice in Taranaki. ...
ANDY JACKSON / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 31: Oakura Classic ultimate frisbee competition organiser John Fernando gets in some early practice in Taranaki. If he wants a pilot's licence, he's getting some flight hours under his belt, too.

JANUARY 31: Sunflowers bathe in the late afternoon sun in the Hinuera fields in Waikato.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY / FAIRFAX NZ

JANUARY 31: Sunflowers bathe in the late afternoon sun in the Hinuera fields in Waikato.

FEBRUARY 3: North of Auckland, it's probably time for the photographer to get out of the way ...
LYN BERGQUIST

FEBRUARY 3: North of Auckland, it's probably time for the photographer to get out of the way ...

FEBRUARY 3: This is what you're missing if you sleep in - or if you're in Wellington. Dawn at Takapuna Beach.
EMILY HILL

FEBRUARY 3: This is what you're missing if you sleep in - or if you're in Wellington. Dawn at Takapuna Beach.

FEBRUARY 4: This bloke is Joseph Pearson. He's a reporter, seen here covering the Auckland Nines - in the Singles Zone ...
JOSEPH PEARSON / FAIRFAX NZ

FEBRUARY 4: This bloke is Joseph Pearson. He's a reporter, seen here covering the Auckland Nines - in the Singles Zone with Bachelor star Naz Khanjani. He works for us, or at least he did, until he filed this photo ...

FEBRUARY 4: Taliai Wagener, 2, enjoys the sun at Riverton in Southland. "Southland is truly a beautiful place and when ...
JOANNA GRIFFITHS / FAIRFAX NZ

FEBRUARY 4: Taliai Wagener, 2, enjoys the sun at Riverton in Southland. "Southland is truly a beautiful place and when the rain finally clears and you can get amongst it, there is nothing better," says our reporter from the deepest south, Joanna Griffiths.

FEBRUARY 4: It wouldn't be Waitangi without police squaring up against protesters. All we need now are some jandals and ...
JO MOIR / FAIRFAX NZ

FEBRUARY 4: It wouldn't be Waitangi without police squaring up against protesters. All we need now are some jandals and pavlova.

FEBRUARY 5: Maddox McCaa, 8, and his brother Flynn, 5, enjoy some time-out at Marlborough Farmers Market.
DEREK FLYNN / FAIRFAX NZ

FEBRUARY 5: Maddox McCaa, 8, and his brother Flynn, 5, enjoy some time-out at Marlborough Farmers Market.

FEBRUARY 5: Harris Bowman, 2, dips his feet in the sand while visiting the seaside markets at Taranaki's Ngamotu Beach.
ANDY JACKSON / FAIRFAX NZ

FEBRUARY 5: Harris Bowman, 2, dips his feet in the sand while visiting the seaside markets at Taranaki's Ngamotu Beach.

FEBRUARY 6: Hordes of surfers descend on New Plymouth's Back Beach on Waitangi Day to take advantage of the good ...
STEVE CAIE / PATHFINDER PHOTOGRAPHY

FEBRUARY 6: Hordes of surfers descend on New Plymouth's Back Beach on Waitangi Day to take advantage of the good weather, and the good surf.

 - Sunday Star Times

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