It paid to be in Alexandra last year - with almost the same
amount of rain falling there all year as Mount Taranaki
experienced in one day.
NIWA's annual climate summary, released today, paints a
picture of a slightly drier year for much of the country, but
also with cooler temperatures.
Alexandra tops the list for the driest place in the country,
with 378mm of rain falling all year.
Mt Taranaki had 336mm fall in one day on July 15 - the
highest rainfall recorded anywhere in the country in one day
"It would have been quite funny if someone from Alexandra was
visiting someone up in Mt Taranaki - their entire annual
rainfall fell in one day," Niwa principal climate scientists
Andrew Tait said.
Alexandra was always a dry place, but Dr Tait said it was
probably a bit drier last year.
Despite Mt Taranaki recording the wettest day last year, the
west coast of both islands recorded below normal annual
rainfalls for the year.
Wanganui recorded its driest year on record.
"The coolness really came from having more easterly type
airflows than what we normally get, and those easterlies
coming off the water tended to be a bit cooler and cloudy and
damper over on the eastern side, but over on the western side
it tended to be a bit sunnier and warmer and drier."
Annual rainfall in eastern areas of both islands was
generally near normal or above normal, the report said.
Dr Tait said records of the west coast being drier than the
east coast probably happened "as often as it happens the
other way around".
"This was just one of those years where it was a bit drier."
A cool start to the year influenced the overall annual
temperatures, he said.
Mean annual temperatures were below average in the north-east
of the South Island, Wellington, Wairarapa, parts of
Manawatu, and between the Tararua District and Waikato.
Mean annual temperatures were generally near normal or
slightly below average everywhere else.
Last year was the sunniest year on record for Te Kuiti, New
Plymouth, Paraparaumu, and Greymouth.
By the end of the year, soil was extremely dry for much of
the North Island, as well as for Nelson and Buller.
Dr Tait said this year has started much the way last year had
"We started the year with some concern over soil moisture,
particularly in eastern areas, so farmers were keeping a very
weary eye on the skies at that stage, but that eased back in
February, March with some reasonable rainfall."
By the numbers in 2012
• Whangarei had the highest annual average temperature
(15.8degC), followed by Kaitaia with 15.7degC and Cape Reinga
and Whangaparaoa, both with 15.5degC.
• The highest recorded extreme temperature of the year
(34.5degC) occurred at Gisborne on December 19, followed by
33.5degC recorded at Middlemarch and Clyde on December 25,
and 33.3degC at Christchurch on December 17.
• The lowest temperature of the year was -11.8degC recorded
at Darfield on June 7, followed by -11.5degC at Lake Pukaki
on the same day, and -11.3degC observed at Ranfurly on 2
• The nationwide average temperature for 2012 was 12.5degC.
• The strongest confirmed wind gust was 206kmh recorded at
Cape Turnagain on December 2, then 185kmh experienced at both
the Rock and Pillar range, Central Otago, on 31 January, and
at Cape Turnagain (on October 18 and 25).
• The lowest rainfall was recorded in Alexandra with 378mm of
rainfall recorded for the year, followed by Clyde with 417mm,
and Cromwell with 455mm.
• The wettest spots last year were Cropp River (West Coast)
with 9630mm, Doon River (Fiordland) with 7410mm, and Tuke
River (West Coast) with 7175mm.
• Whakatane was the sunniest location, recording 2602 hours,
followed by Nelson (2584 hours) and Lake Tekapo (2562 hours).
• Of the six main centres, Hamilton was the wettest,
Christchurch the driest, Tauranga the sunniest, Auckland the
warmest, and Dunedin the coolest and cloudiest.