Climate Summary for December 2011

National Climate Summary – December 2011: Wet over North Island and northern South Island.

  • Rainfall: More than double normal December rainfall for most of the North Island and northern South Island. Less than half normal rainfall in Southland and Otago.
  • Soil moisture levels: Drier than normal in Southland, Otago and West Coast. Much wetter than normal in most of North Island and northern South Island.
  • Temperatures: Much above average in the south and west of the South Island; above average in the west of the North Island. Below average in the east of the North Island and northeastern South Island.
  • Sunshine: Sunny for much of the South Island and Taranaki. Below normal sunshine for the northern half of the North Island and northern South Island.

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.

Further Highlights:

  • The highest temperature was 31.3°C, observed at Alexandra on 13 December
  • The lowest temperature was -0.6°C, at Ranfurly on 18 December
  • The highest 1-day rainfall experienced was 392 mm at Takaka on 14 December
  • The highest gust recorded was 148 km/hr at Southwest Cape (Stewart Island) on 27 December
  • Of the six main centres in December 2011, Auckland and Tauranga were equal-warmest, Dunedin the sunniest and driest, and Tauranga the wettest.

Full report

Full details of the December 2011 climate summary  (PDF 355 KB)

Climate statistics table

Climate statistics for December 2011 (PDF 84 KB)

For further information, please contact:

Dr Andrew Tait, Principal Climate Scientist, NIWA National Climate Centre, Wellington

Mobile (027) 3277948

Tel (04) 386 0562