Hamilton's August sunniest centre: NIWA

Hamilton averaged a temperature of 9.2°C through August.
MIKE SCOTT/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamilton averaged a temperature of 9.2°C through August.

Hamilton has won the title of sunniest main city, though it may be hard to believe at the moment.

A tally of its August 2015 hours of light narrowly beat the five other main Kiwi centres, according to a NIWA monthly climate summary.

And mayor Julie Hardaker hoped that would stop the fog jokes.

Hamilton had the most August sunshine hours of the six main Kiwi centres.
KELLY HODEL/STUFF

Hamilton had the most August sunshine hours of the six main Kiwi centres.

But the month was a mixed bag for other parts of the Waikato, with record low temperatures, snow and heavy rain in the mix.

Hamiltonians enjoyed 155 sunshine hours in August - about five a day - which was the most of any main centre.

The tally narrowly beat Auckland and Tauranga, but had about an extra hour a day on Wellington.

The city wasn't traditionally known as sunshine central, Hardaker said, but she was happy to take the title.

"I think we can claim, at least for one month, that we're the sunshine capital of New Zealand," she said.

"We're one up on Tauranga, which is a beachy resort."

And while it might not stop the Hamilton jokes, "they can stop making the jokes about the fog, particularly when it's August that we've claimed the top spot, which is traditionally a foggy month".

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Southwest Waikato also basked in the golden glow in August, with 10-20 per cent more sunshine than usual.

But it was a chilly month for the folk in Te Kuiti, who'd already had record low temperatures in July.

The thermometer dropped to -3.1°C on August 11, which was the King Country town's third lowest temperature in the 56 years records have been kept.

Air temperature was the third coldest on record, averaging 8°C, though 2.7°C was the average minimum temperature.

Residents Ross O'Halloran and father Jim thought 2015 had been colder than the previous year.

Ross said the low temperatures and frosts took him back to his childhood.

"We used to slide down the hills on plastic bags, the milk powder bags."

Jim O'Halloran said the conditions were "typical spring".

"Sometimes it's wet, sometimes it's just very cold. It depends where the wind's [coming] from."

READ MORE:
* Wintry snow showers continue to blast central North Island
Delays at Turoa after skifield carpark crash
* Temperature records broken around the Waikato

Nationally the average August temperature was 8.6°C, but Hamilton sat at 9.2°C.

The city also got 121mm of rain during the month, which NIWA said was near normal.

But about 12km away, in Whatawhata, 72mm of rain fell on August 31 alone.

The area only had two days previously, when it recorded more rain, since records began in 1952.

And Waikato escaped the worst of weather events, but SH1 between Taupo and Turangi was closed due to flooding on August 6-7.

A scattering of snow on August 9 saw Chateau Tongariro get its biggest blanketing since 2008.

Motorists spent hours trapped on the Turoa Ski Field access road thanks to blizzard conditions and crashes which blocked the road. 

But other Waikato areas had minimum temperatures creeping up.

August 4 saw Whatawhata hit 14.4°C - its highest minimum on record - and Ohakune at 9.6°C - the fourth highest for the town.

Looking at the months to November, El Niño is set to continue and could stretch into summer.

Near-average or below-average temperatures are likely for Waikato, Northland, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, according to NIWA's September-November outlook.

Those areas are also likely to get below normal rainfall, soil moisture and river flows.

August weather highlights from NIWA

* Top temperature: 23.8°C, at Christchurch (Riccarton) on August 3.
* Lowest temperature: -11.5°C, at Lake Tekapo on August 11.
* Highest one-day rainfall: 134mm, at North Egmont on August 5.
* Highest wind gust: 141km/hr, at Cape Turnagain on August 19.

Sunshine hours for the six main centres
* Hamilton: 155
* Auckland: 154
* Tauranga: 152
* Christchurch: 142
* Dunedin: 131
* Wellington: 123
Source: NIWA

 - Stuff

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