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Southland is both the most southerly and most westerly part of New Zealand and generally is the first to be influenced by weather systems moving onto the country from the west or south.

It is well exposed to these systems, although western parts of Fiordland are sheltered from the south and the area east of the western ranges is partially sheltered from the north or northwest. The region is in the latitudes of prevailing westerlies, and areas around Foveaux Strait frequently experience strong winds, but the winds are lighter inland. Winter is typically the least windy time of year, as well as for many but not all areas, the driest.

The western ranges, with annual falls exceeding 8000 mm in some parts, are among the rainiest places on earth.

The drier eastern lowlands and hills form a complete contrast, with annual falls predominantly between 1200 mm and 800 mm. Dry spells of more than two weeks are not common. Temperatures are on average lower than over the rest of the country with frosts and snowfalls occurring relatively frequently each year.

On average, Southland receives less sunshine than the remainder of New Zealand.

Read the report

Read the full report - The climate and weather of Southland - 3rd edition [2.7 MB]

Suggested citation

Macara, G.R. 2013. The climate and weather of Southland. NIWA Science and Technology Series 63, 44 pp.

NIWA's climatologies

A regional climatology is a summary of the typical weather and climate of a region, based on historical data observations made at climate stations located within the region. 

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Read more about NIWA's regional climatologies

Southland's regional climatology - The climate and weather of Southland