Nelson and Tasman

Nelson City and Tasman District are located in the most north-westerly part of the South Island and generally are the first to be influenced by weather systems moving onto the island from the north.

The area is well exposed to these systems, whereas it is sheltered a great deal from systems arriving from the south.

The region is situated in the latitudes of prevailing westerlies, and parts around the north-western tip (e.g. Farewell Spit) often experience strong winds, but the winds are lighter elsewhere.

Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed across the year, although February and March are typically the driest months of the year whereas the wettest months are observed in winter or spring. Parts of the Tasman Mountains receive in excess of 6000 mm of annual rainfall. Nelson and the Waimea Plain are the driest areas of the region, and are well sheltered from rain-bearing systems arriving from the west and south. Here, annual rainfall totals of approximately 1000 mm are recorded. Dry spells of more than two weeks are quite common, particularly in eastern and inland locations.

Temperatures are mild compared with the rest of the country, with the region’s close proximity to the sea resulting in a relative lack of extreme high and extreme low temperatures. Temperatures exceeding 30°C are rare in coastal areas.

Frosts are quite common in the cooler months, however they occur less frequently than most other South Island locations.

Nelson and Tasman are renowned for receiving a great deal of sunshine, particularly in Nelson City itself where average annual sunshine hours (approximately 2,400 hours) are among the highest recorded in New Zealand.

Read the report

Read the full report - The climate and weather of Nelson and Tasman - 2nd edition [PDF 4.6 MB]

Suggested citation

Macara, G.R. 2016. The climate and weather of Nelson and Tasman. NIWA Science and Technology Series 71, 40 pp.

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Nelson and Tasman's regional climatology - the climate and weather of Nelson and Tasman. [NIWA]