Current Climate - December 2011
More northeast winds than normal affected New Zealand during December 2011, producing warm, dry and sunny conditions in the southwest of the country and cool, wet and dull conditions in the north.
Well above normal rainfall for December was experienced in most of the North Island and northern South Island. Many areas received significant rainfalls in the last two days of the year. Nelson received more than six times and Takaka received more than eight times their normal December rainfall (the highest December totals there since records began in 1941 and 1976, respectively). 392 mm fell on the 14th of the month in Takaka, the highest ever (all months) 1-day rainfall there, beating the previous record of 259 mm which was recorded in November 1990. Highest December rainfall totals were also recorded in Kerikeri, Te Puke, Rotorua, Hamilton, Stratford, Hawera, Wanganui and Motueka. Conversely, in the south and west of the country, rainfall was well below normal. Lowest December rainfall totals were recorded in Milford Sound, Puysegur Point, Dunedin, Manapouri, Queenstown, Lumsden, Gore, Invercargill, Balclutha and Tiwai Point.
Mean temperatures in December were well above average (more than 1.2°C above December average) in much of Southland, Otago and the West Coast. Above average temperatures (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C above December average) were recorded in many other western areas of the country. It was cooler than average (between 0.5°C and 1.2°C below average) for December in parts of Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough. The nation-wide average temperature in December was 15.8°C (0.2°C above the 1971–2000 December average), using NIWA's seven-station temperature series which begins in 1909.
December 2011 was a sunny month in the south and west of the South Island as well as in Taranaki. In contrast, below normal sunshine totals were observed in the north of the South Island and from Bay of Plenty northwards. Elsewhere, sunshine totals were near normal.