Weather unusually changeable

The weather has been unseasonably changeable for January, according to Queenstown meteorologist David Crow. Summer had not been bad at the start, but January saw a preponderance of low-pressure centres to the east of the South Island and fairly slow-moving anticyclones in the western Tasman Sea, he said.

''Between the two, there's been quite a cool southwesterley airstream blowing for quite a while over the eastern Tasman and New Zealand and it's incorporated and there's been some fairly slow-moving fronts over us and they've been giving us fairly extensive rain.

''The rainfall has been about half as much again as we would normally have for the whole month and we're only halfway through the month.''

The average temperature in December was 1.5degC above the normal of 14.8degC. The notable high of 32degC on January 5 beat the Christmas Day high of 30.9degC. Mr Crow said Queenstown normally experienced three summer days of more than 30degC.

''I think overall this month will finish off average for temperatures,'' he said.

The top of the North Island had been enjoying finer weather than the Wakatipu, but elsewhere in New Zealand the conditions had been about the same, or worse, this summer.

''For the rest of this month, we're going to be rather cool. Temperatures slightly below the average of 15.9degC and ... wet. We should normally be experiencing high-20s at this time of the year.''

A fast-moving ridge should lead to relatively mild weather today, but Saturday afternoon was not looking good, with cool conditions, southwesterlies and rain expected, Mr Crow said.

The temperature would be lucky to get to 15degC tomorrow, but Sunday and Monday should improve.

''February is looking more seasonal, with light westerly winds and warmer temperatures again.''