New Zealand Climate

Coldest October since 1982

October received more than the usual number of cold snaps, keeping temperatures well below normal over most of New Zealand. The national average temperature was 1.1 °C below normal at 11 °C, the same temperature as that of September.

Overnight minimum temperatures were more than 2 °C below normal in many places. Ground frosts occurred with twice their normal frequency in inland parts of Bay of Plenty and Canterbury.

The cold October was a marked turn around from September, when temperatures were above normal over much of the country.

Low rainfall

Apart from north of Gisborne, and coastal Southland, rainfall was below average. Many North Island localities recorded less than 75% of normal, as did parts of the northern South Island and inland Otago. Rainfall was below average for the fourth consecutive month in central Marlborough, with 50% of normal. Similar rainfall departures were recorded in Bay of Plenty and the southern tip of the North Island.

High sunshine hours

October was extremely sunny throughout New Zealand. Sunshine hours at Kaitaia, Auckland, New Plymouth, Paraparaumu, Wellington, and Christchurch were the highest October totals on record.


Hail the size of golf balls caused widespread damage in Hornby, near Christchurch, on 27 October.

Percentage of average rainfall for October 2002 (recording sites shown with dots). Click to enlarge.

Difference from the average air temperature in degrees Celsius for October 2002. Click to enlarge.