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Winds of Change

We’re a windy nation and we tend to get  it coming from all directions at anytime of the year.Exposed coastlines can really cop it when fast moving fronts or deep depressions unleash their fury upon us.

Wellington is well known as the windy city and is indeed in the top 5 cities globally.Our capital city is more susceptible to severe gales and high wind gusts, however there are periods where the lack of wind is abundant.


Fog has been known to close Wellington airport on a number of occasions which is generally associated with relatively calm conditions.On a fine day the locals say ‘ When the sun shines and there’s no wind, there’s no better place to be!’.

Windiest and calmest centres

Overall, Wellington is on average, our windiest city with 22 kilometres per hour breezes experienced around the clock but hot on their heels is New Plymouth with an average of 20 kph.The difference between the 2 cities is that Wellington has more than 20 days a year where it can blow in excess of 63 kph compared to New Plymouths 5.

Wellingtonians might be pleased to know that the Chatham Islands is actually windier than their own city (25kph year round) and that Kaikoura has a higher number of wind gusts too but that is where the good news ends.

The city is the only centre where the wind has officially exceeded 200 kph in the country (at least there is less frost and smog due to the winds!).

Third equal is Wanganui and Invercargill averaging 18kph with Auckland and Palmerston North in 5th spot on 17kph.

The ‘calmest’ areas seem to be inland with Alexandra just on 6 kph, Lake Tekapo on 7 while surprisingly Milford Sound is the 3rd most ‘windless’ centre.The odd thing is, is that the Mt John Observatory is just a stones throw away from Lake Tekapo and yet has the highest recorded wind gust in the land of 250 kph!

Wind Exposure

Higher elevations do make a difference when it comes to the strength of the wind and our mountainous regions can experience storm force winds regularly which can come and go very quickly.It always pays to prepare for anything when moving into the mountains, as conditions can change rapidly.

Coastal seabreezes are very common in summer along our coasts and although we can enjoy them keeping a lid on the temperaturesduring the afternoons , they can be particularly breezy and cool on exposed coastlines making conditions fairly unpleasant at times.

The impact of wind may always be a part of the New Zealand psyche and it is perhaps our attitude which helps us best cope with the ongoing winds of change.

Weather Analyst-Richard Green


SW on 28/11/2008 7:21pm

If Auckland hardly ever got the South Westerlies it would be a very calm place.Most other directions theres not much wind and problably W and NE are the other Directions that can be windy but only in a cyclonic situation unlike SW wheres “1” (5hpa spacing) isobar brings a Strong wind or at times in the warmer months a Gale here.

WW Forecast Team on 28/11/2008 10:57pm

Yes Auckland is exposed and the wind is a talking point and of the main centres, it is second behind Wellington for the wind. It would be interesting to see what sort of temperatures would be achieved if the wind was less intense.




weather-nut on 29/11/2008 11:13pm

“Auckland … second behind Wellington for the wind” ?

Hi Richard, you actually stated in your article above that, in terms of average wind-speeds, Auckland was 5th equal with Palmerston North, after Wellington, New Plymouth, Wanganui and Invercargill. However, I think perhaps just quoting average annual wind-speeds may also be slightly misleading.

According to NIWA, in terms of high winds, Auckland only averages about 2 Gale-days per year (more likely about 4 for greater Ak?), compared with 22 days for Wellington, 28 for Kaikoura, 18 for Invercargill and 8 for Dunedin. Other areas with more Gale-days include, Kaitaia, Tauranga, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Blenheim, Christchurch and Timaru.

And although Auckland’s most frequent winds are from west and south-west, winds from other directions are common; a relatively large proportion of Auckland’s strongest recorded winds are from the NE. Auckland also generally gets more sunshine hours when winds are from SW, rather than usual tropical-moisture laden NE winds.

WW Forecast Team on 30/11/2008 7:03am

Thanks for your comments

Yes there are more gales elsewhere in the country but overall of the main centres, Auckland does maintain a healthy average wind speed. That is just a fact and if Aucklanders wish to have a reputation for little wind, they might have a hard job trying to convince others!

I agree with you about wind directions and the sunshine being more likely from a SW direction.Auckland has little protection from any nearby ranges and is vulnerable to winds coming in off the Tasman sea and the Pacific ocean. 



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