New Zealand weather
New Zealand is situated approximately halfway between the equator and the South Pole. The weather systems pass in an easterly direction through the naughty 40's latitudes and can subject New Zealand to severe contrasts in weather.
Anticyclones (Highs) can produce long periods of settled weather producing warm sunny days in summer and sunny days beginning with frosts in the winter.
Frontal systems can quickly produce extreme reductions in temperature and produce substantial rainfall as they pass over the country.
A series of tall mountains extend along the length of the country and have a major effect on the country's weather. The predominant winds are westerly and during certain periods of the year the country is subjected to north-westerly winds. These winds result in the West Coast, particularly in the South Island, receiving extremely high rainfall while a 100km to the east, through Southern Alps, the weather is hot and dry with strong winds.
It is due to these weather patterns that areas of the South Island's West Coast are covered in lush rain forest due to a mean annual rainfall of 6 metres, while some areas of the central South Island are almost a desert with only 300mm of annual rainfall.
New Zealand enjoys a generally warm summer with temperatures often reaching the high 20's, mid 30's Celsius (75-90 F), but can plummet down to temperatures as low as 8 Celsius (45 F) during a frontal system. Overnight temperatures are generally mild during summer.
Winter can see midday coastal temperatures around 8-13 Celsius (45-55 F). Temperatures reduce as altitude is achieved. Some inland areas may have winter's days where the temperature will remain below freezing (32 F) all day.
Frosts are common on the winter mornings during periods of settled weather. Inland areas experience colder frosts. Overnight temperatures as low as -20 Celsius can be recorded in the central South Island.
Generally a frosty morning will be followed by a settled and often sunny day.
Due to New Zealand's severe climate, snow has been known to fall lightly in the higher altitude areas during mid summer cold frontal systems.
New Zealand is generally a sunny country with most areas receiving at least 2000 hours of annual sunshine. The sunniest areas of New Zealand are around the top of the South Island and the North Island's Bay of Plenty. These areas can receive a further 20% of annual sunshine while the lower South Island can receive 15% less.