Since instrumental records became available in the 1850’s, climatic values show a range from the highest temperature of 42.4 degrees C recorded in Rangiora on February 7, 1973, to the lowest temperature of-25.6 degrees C in Eweburn, Ranfurly on 17 July 1903. In terms of rainfall extremes, values vary from the most intense rainfall in 10 minutes recorded in Tauranga on 17 April 1948, to 16,617 mm in a calendar year at Cropp in the Hokitika catchment in 1998.
For further information on a range of weather and climate matters see my recent book “Fifteen shades of climate… the fall of the weather dice and the butterfly effect”. Available from Amazon.
The following is an update on the subject from pages 453 to 454..
Each year, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) updates the weather extremes recorded in New Zealand since observations were officially recorded in the 1850’s. The current extremes – up to April 2022 – include the following:
Wettest: 34 mm in 10 minutes in Tauranga on April 17 1948, 134 mm in one hour in the Cropp at Waterfall in the Hokitika Catchment. This site also has the records for the highest 24 hours fall of 869 mm on January 1, 2013, the highest 48 hour fall of 1086 mm on 25/26 March 2019, the highest fall in a calendar month of 2927 mm in December 1995, and the highest fall in a calendar year of 16,617 mm in 1998.
Driest: Only 9 mm of rain fell at Cape Campbell (Marlborough) from January to March 2001, the driest three-months ever recorded in New Zealand. The driest six months was also at Cape Campbell from November 2000 to April 2001 when only 52 mm of rain was recorded. The driest 12 months was in Alexandra from November 1963 to October 1964, when only 167 mm was recorded, and the driest calendar year was 1964 in Alexandra 1964. The longest period without rain is 71 days, which occurred in Wai-iti, Marlborough starting on February 8,1939.
Warmest: Until 1973, the highest temperatures officially recorded in New Zealand was 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit (38.4 degrees Celsius) at Ashburton and Darfield on January 19, 1956. However, under extreme north-westerly conditions on February 7, 1973, 42.4 degrees C (108.3 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded at Rangiora. A temperature of 42.3 degrees C was also recorded on this day at Jordan, Marlborough.
Coldest: The coldest air temperature ever recorded was -25.6 degrees C in Eweburn, Ranfurly on July 17, 1903. The lowest grass temperature is -21.6 degrees C recorded at Lake Tekapo on August 4, 1938.
Sunniest: Nelson, Takaka, Riwaka, Blenheim, Lake Tekapo, Tauranga and Whakatane often appear in the list of very sunny places in New Zealand, but officially, Richmond has recorded the most sunshine in any one year with 2859 hours in 2019, with Whakatane recording 2792 hours in 2013. In contrast, only 971 hours of sunshine was recorded in Franz Josef in 1991. For one month, the sunniest location has been New Plymouth with 359 hours in January 2022, and the least sunny location has been Otautau with only 25 hours in June 2002.
Wind Gust: The highest wind gusts recorded in New Zealand were 250 km/h at Mt John, Canterbury on April 17, 1970, and 248 km/h at Hawkins Hill, Wellington on November 6, 1959, and July 4, 1962.