The lack-lustre summer in parts of the country looks set to improve over the coming months, forecasters say.
However there could be more rain in the north of the North Island, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) says.
Niwa's outlook for January to March, published today, predicts rainfall is likely to be normal to above normal in the north of the North Island, possibly below normal in Nelson and Marlborough, and near-normal in all other regions.
Temperatures are most likely to be above average for the North Island and average to above average for South Island regions, the outlook says.
Soil-moisture levels are most likely to be near normal in all regions, except for Nelson and Marlborough, which are picked to be drier.
River flows are most likely to be near normal in all regions, except for Nelson and Marlborough, where flows could be below normal.
For the next three months, lower than normal pressures are forecast over the Tasman Sea and north of New Zealand, while higher than normal pressures are forecast to the southeast of the country, Niwa says.
That circulation pattern is expected to be associated with a weak, unusual flow from the northeasterly quarter.
Sea-surface temperatures are expected to remain above average around all New Zealand for the three months.
The risk of an ex-tropical cyclone approaching New Zealand is expected to be close to normal.
Based on the long-term record, ex-tropical cyclones come within 550 kilometres of New Zealand in nine out of every 10 years. Such systems typically happen during the latter part of the tropical cyclone season from February to April.
The tropical cyclone season in the southwestern Pacific had a late start, with the first named storm occurring in the New Year, but the period of maximum activity is now starting.