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Sunshine and globally, we do okay!

We can often complain about our changeable weather and that it’s too windy,wet or cold and perhaps all of the forementioned, if not more!

In a nation where there is constant change weatherwise, it is interesting to take at our look sunshine totals,as they don’t seem to reveal the inclement weather that can often prevail.

In a temperate or marine type climate, rather surprisingly our sunshine figures range from around 1600 hours a year in the deep south, up to near 2500 hours in Marlborough and Blenheim. Tauranga also enjoys plenty of natures rays and is generally the sunniest spot in the North Island.

The main reason for New Zealand enjoying relatively healthy sunshine numbers is that a majority of our weather systems move fairly rapidly, not allowing for cloud and rain to settle in for long, extended periods.Of course there are always exceptions to this, but as a general rule, windy conditions help to prevent dull times.

Wellington is the number 1 main centre for sunshine in this country but Auckland and Christchurch are just a matter of a few hours behind.Dunedin is often cloudier during the winter months, therefore affecting the overall total.

Residents in Dunedin, Balclutha, Gore and Invercargill alongside Stewart Island are affected by increasing cloudiness in particular, however long daylight hours during summer bump up the figures to a respectable total.

Internationally,the Gold Coast in Australia receives more than 3000 hours each year hence why there are so many beachgoers with a warmer and sunny climate but they are still a long way off from their American counterparts.

The U.S. is a very sunny country with Washington and Alaska being the only 2 states where totals are about average. California and Arizona are especially sunny with some areas getting around 95% of possible sunshine!

Canada and New Zealand have a few similarities, with Toronto and Vancouver having natures rays comparable to our main centres.

In the UK, London struggles to top 1500 hours annually and in winter, just an average of 1 hour a day, aids the English gloominess.Even during our darkest moments in winter, an average of 4 hours a day can be expected, even in the most southern regions. 

This weekend doesn’t look as if any sunshine figures will be broken, particularly out west but at least it looks like humidity in these areas might not make it feel quite so miserable in the liquid sunshine.


Derek Butcher on 21/11/2008 9:19pm

I read your column daily and enjoy your detailed comments about weather items.
Like today talking about sunshine hours it’s very interesting but I have one big complaint, why is Northland and especially Whangarei rarely included in these situations.
The South of the North, South Island, BOP, Hawkes Bay all get their fair mention but there is hardly ever any detail on us up here.
All of this week its been about Gisbourne, Dunedin, Tauranga, Auckland and many others but not a mention of Whangarei, Kaitaia,
Bay of Isles etc..

I was reading today’s item looking for the Northland input but absolutely nothing. Can you please remember we are part of NZ even though north of the Auckland.
It seems to me that we get more than our fair share of cloud (land of the long grey(not white)cloud) especially when there is an anti-cyclone about.
The sun can be shining just down at Wellsford and maybe just further North but poor Whangarei stays cloudy.

We also seem to get a good deal of wet weather more so than elsewhere due to darned North to Easterly winds in one format or another. (Like the front coming in right now, blowing a fairly strong NW it seems right now)) But all we seem to be included in is suspect weather warnings.

We have had a very mixed bag of weather this past week with prevailing cold SW’sters and a lot of cloud, quite wintery in some ways.

So having gotten this of my chest I thank you for a great site and hope to see us up here included just a bit more when applicable.

WW Forecast Team on 21/11/2008 10:00pm

Hi Derek, thanks very much for your feedback and yep I definitely understand your frustration!

Just to clarify Richard Green wrote the fantastic article above.  Richard is brilliant with facts and figures and all the weather stats you could imagine!!

It is hard to cover all the of the country … I’m based in Auckland (Richard is based in Christchurch) so the two of us are usually pretty good at balancing out any bias!  But I have to say that Northland (much like Auckland and Waikato and Bay of Plenty) have such a moderate climate that often they miss out on the news.  Obviously Auckland gets mentioned quite a bit (worth noting that the majority of our readers are from Auckland…although we’re wanting to cover the whole country!) but really it’s places like Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and the West Coast that get the most amount of mentions – especially in spring with all those wild changes in temperatures and rainfall.  

But, I think Northland might get quite a few mentions tomorrow as this system rolls in.  Having taken your advice on board!  Thanks again for the feedback.


Philip Duncan 

Derek Butcher on 22/11/2008 3:43am

Thanks for your reply Phillip, very much appreciated. I do understand the situation but like to see us up here get a mention now and then.

Good job I got the lawns cut today.



SW on 21/11/2008 6:35pm

I call Aucklands weather a much warmer version of the U.K/Scotland (even though never been there) but from numerous tv sitcoms etc watched on TV,its often grey drizzly and windy like seen on these programmes unlike on US programmes where it shows it always fine and hot or tremendous rain/thunderstorms or snow and often in the former crickets always chirping at night.We are similar but in winter/some summers much warmer up to 10° but similar conditions like the highlands.

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