Forget needing official statistics: New Plymouth's icecream makers can confirm the city's record sunshine hours.
Figures released by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research last week showed that with 2668 hours worth, New Plymouth was 2013's second sunniest place in the country, beaten only by Whakatane.
Though many of the city' residents were struck dumb with disbelief at the second placing, Angie Orsborn at Pukekura Park's Tea House on the Lake said the sunny crown came as no surprise to her.
"In the last two days we've made 1500 icecream cones and that's not including novelties.
"It's been so busy. Every time the sun is shining there is always a queue for icecreams," she said.
Christina Black of New Plymouth's Lander and Black Unichem hails from Nelson and was loath to admit her home town could have possibly been beaten by her adopted one. "But I have to say the sales of sunscreen and hats have been very good.
"Most people are opting for 30+ or 50+ SPF these days. The message is getting through," she said.
It needs to. Along with its enviable sunshine hours New Plymouth has the unenviable honour of some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the country.
"A lot of people don't realise it's the ultraviolet rays that are harmful. It's not the temperature.
"It doesn't matter if it's windy or if it's cold. It's the UV rating that matters," said Angie Walters of the Cancer Society of New Zealand Taranaki Centre.
She recommended people use 50 SPF sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, high quality sunglasses and, if possible, avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 10am and 4pm when ultraviolet rays are generally at their strongest.
Garden experts, however, are urging caution before people start growing pineapples. "That would be jumping the gun a little bit," said Adrian McLeod, owner of Fairfields Garden Centre.
Niwa's annual climate summary released yesterday noted New Plymouth recorded its highest temperature on record last year, with 30.6 degrees Celsius on January 6. However, the weather experts are also exercising a bit of caution, with Niwa scientist Mike Revell reported as saying they were "a little sceptical" about the figures. "We want to check our facts," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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