Climate Summary for April 2020

Very dry for many parts of New Zealand.

Very dry for many parts of New Zealand.


Rainfall was well below normal (<50% of normal) or below normal (50-79% of normal) for most of the North Island, Nelson, Tasman, Marlborough, Canterbury and eastern parts of Central Otago. Rainfall was above normal (120-149% of normal) for some western parts of the South Island and Oamaru.

Soil Moisture

At the end of the month, soil moisture levels were considerably lower than normal for most of the North Island, as well as northern parts of the South Island. Soils were also drier than normal for many eastern parts of the South Island. Near normal soil moisture levels were typical in western and southern parts of the South Island.


Temperatures were above average (0.51-1.20°C above average) for parts of Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Canterbury, eastern Central Otago and Southland. Temperatures were typically near average (±0.50°C of average) for the remainder of the country.


April 2020 mean sea level air pressure was below normal to the southwest of the South Island. This was associated with more westerly air flows than usual over New Zealand. It was a very dry month for much of New Zealand, especially in eastern parts which were sheltered from the prevailing westerly airflow. The ongoing lack of rain resulted in soils remaining considerably drier than normal in many parts of the North Island, especially about Hawke’s Bay, Coromandel, Auckland and Northland. Soils were also drier than normal for northern and eastern parts of the South Island. Temperatures were generally mild throughout April, although a cold front delivered snow to low elevations of Southland and Otago around mid-month (see Highlights and extreme events for further details). Overall, the nationwide average temperature in April 2020 was 13.5°C. This was 0.2°C above the 1981-2010 April average from NIWA’s seven station temperature series which begins in 1909.

April 2020 climate summary and extreme climate infographic

Further highlights

  • The highest temperature was 27.9°C, observed at Waiau on 11 April.
  • The lowest temperature was -3.9°C, observed at Middlemarch on 29 April.
  • The highest 1-day rainfall was 119 mm, recorded at Arthur’s Pass Village on 12 April.
  • The highest wind gust was 161 km/h, observed at South West Cape on 30 April.
  • Of the six main centres in April 2020, Auckland was the warmest, Tauranga was the sunniest, Christchurch was the driest, Hamilton was the wettest, and Dunedin was the coldest and least sunny.
  • Of the available, regularly reporting sunshine observation sites, the sunniest four locations in 2020 so far are Bay of Plenty (1096 hours), Taranaki (1080 hours), Greater Nelson (1029 hours) and Auckland (991 hours).