Summer Series 2: Get summer sorted with NIWA’s online summertime toolkit
Whether you're at the beach, in the bach, on the boat or by the barbecue, summer holiday fun hinges on knowing when conditions outside will be favourable and not-so-favourable for the activities you have in mind.
NIWA's website (www.niwa.co.nz) is the place to go for real-time information and forecasts on a range of summertime conditions – available to you free of charge.
Our daily UV forecasts (www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/uv-and-ozone/forecasts) are a great place to start. Here you can view a graph of the dawn-to-dusk UV radiation levels predicted for your town or city each day. The forecast shows when UV is expected to rise into the moderate, high, very high and extreme ranges, under clear skies or cloud, so you can plan for a sunburn-free day accordingly.
But if catching a few rays is part of your holiday plan, NIWA's SolarView tool (www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/solarview) can help – with great precision.
Just enter your street address, or click a location on the map, and SolarView will accurately depict the sun's path through the sky, from sunrise to sunset, at five representative dates during the year. It even factors in local terrain. And once you're back from your holiday, you can use SolarView to work out exactly how much solar energy is available at your address, at different times of the year, to power your home.
If you're planning on boating, surf-casting, swimming, snorkelling, diving or just beachcombing, knowing what the tide is doing, and when, is critical. NIWA's tide forecaster (www.niwa.co.nz/services/online-services/tide-forecaster) predicts high and low tide times and heights for all New Zealand open coastal and ocean waters (i.e., excluding harbours and estuaries), up to 28 days ahead. You can define your location by clicking on a map or selecting from a drop-down list, and then view tide information as a graph or in a table.
Sometimes seeing is believing when it comes to assessing whether beach conditions are just right – particularly if you're planning on swimming or catching a wave. Cam-Era (www.niwa.co.nz/our-services/online-services/cam-era) is NIWA's network of computer-controlled web cameras that monitor the New Zealand environment for research and resource management purposes. Cam-Era lenses are trained continuously on a number of popular beaches, including Raglan, Tairua, Pauanui and New Brighton – ideal for holidaymakers looking for a heads-up view of current conditions.
Remember, these tools are available to you at no cost and, coupled with NIWA's seasonal climate outlooks (www.niwa.co.nz/climate/sco), can help you plan for an enjoyable and safe summer holiday wherever you're headed.