A Christmas heatwave has hit New Plymouth, leaving people sweltering as the city posted its hottest temperature on record.
Cyclone Evan, parked off the west coast of the North Island, is responsible for three days of extremely hot and muggy weather, with even an afternoon thunderstorm thrown in to add to the tropical feel.
Taranaki Daily News investigations showed Christmas Eve was the hottest day in the city since at least 1971, blitzing the old record by almost a full degree Celsius.
According to MetService, on Monday New Plymouth was the third-hottest place in the country, with a top temperature of 30 degrees Celsius.
But Taranaki Regional Council figures show on the same day the temperature gauge at Brooklands Park climbed as high as 31.1C.
The hottest previous temperature recorded in New Plymouth, also taken at Brooklands Park, was 30.4C, on January 5, 1975, according to Niwa records that go back to 1971.
Christmas Day was another cracker in the city too, with the temperature again topping 30C.
In central and South Taranaki, TRC gauges showed while it was warm, it wasn't quite as extreme as in the north.
At Patea, the peak temperature yesterday was 26.19C, while in Stratford it was 26.4C.
MetService forecaster Brooke Lockhart said the warm moist air had been brought down from the tropics by Cyclone Evan.
Despite the heatwave, by yesterday afternoon nobody had presented at Taranaki Base Hospital's Emergency Department with heat-related conditions.
The heat made Christmas Day the perfect time for New Plymouth residents and visitors alike to hit the beach.
At Fitzroy, hundreds were enjoying the gentle swells in the early afternoon.
Among them was a newcomer to Taranaki, 7-year-old Kane Oliver, who moved with his family from Te Kauwhata six months ago.
Moving to the coast was great fun, he said, eyeing up his early Christmas present, a boogie board, for another stint in the surf.
"I like going in the water," he said.
"This was my early Christmas present, but I had to dry the dishes for it."
Also among the revellers were Auckland visitors Paulie and Trina, who were both stoked at the weather Taranaki had turned on.
"As we left Auckland it was p...... down, we had the wipers on full, but for it to turn out like this we couldn't believe our luck," Paulie said.
Gary Shields said he did not normally choose the beach at Christmas, but the weather was so good he decided to give it a crack.
He wasn't surprised to hear the days were among the city's hottest ever. "I'm a carpenter so I work outside all the time. It's been pretty blimmin hot; we're lucky we're missing all the bad weather.
"It's great, the best it's been for a long time."
Taranaki Surf Lifesaving club development officer Andy Cronin said even with hundreds in the water, there had been no big rescues required, just a couple of precautionary trips out.
Meanwhile, with the remnants of Cyclone Evan starting to fizzle out, the forecast is for a cooler and wet day today.
The MetService expects a high of 22C, with a humid northerly wind and showers, some of them heavy.
Tomorrow, the rain is expected to clear in the morning, with a high temperature of 23C forecast.
SURVIVING THE HEAT
- Plan your day to avoid going out in the hottest weather
- Drink plenty of water. Don't wait until you're thirsty
- Take regular breaks in the shade Wear light coloured, loose-fitting clothes
- Park your car in a shady spot Use sunscreen Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated, hot or sugary drinks
- Have cool showers or baths
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity or exercise
- Don't forget pets and animals also suffer in the heat
- Taranaki Daily News
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