Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

NZ's east coast has best weather outlook

Niwa expects sea surface temperatures to remain above average around the whole of New Zealand until the end of March. Photo / Greg Bowker
Niwa expects sea surface temperatures to remain above average around the whole of New Zealand until the end of March. Photo / Greg Bowker

Beachgoers looking for hot swimming spots over the coming months should stick to New Zealand's east coast, according to a new climate report.

Niwa's three-month climate outlook, released today, shows sea surface temperatures around New Zealand have been warmer than normal for the past year.

Last month, the sea surface temperature was 0.9C above the normal December temperature.

The increase was the largest monthly deviation from the normal sea surface temperature for the year, and marked the 12th consecutive month that New Zealand's sea surface temperature had been warmer than usual.

According to the Niwa summary, those who want to make the most of the warmer seas should head east, with above average sea surface temperatures reintensifying in the area between the North Island and Fiji.

However, warmer than normal sea surface temperatures for all of New Zealand were expected until the end of March.

Residents in the top half of New Zealand, currently enjoying a run of good weather, are in for above average temperatures.

Those in the South Island should get above average or normal temperatures for the period.

Niwa expected rainfall levels for the top part of the North Island to be above normal or normal for the three months.

Most other parts of New Zealand should expect near normal rainfall levels until the end of March.

However, those in the Nelson-Marlborough region may be a little better off, with Niwa expecting normal or below normal rainfall levels.

Soil moisture levels and river flows were also expected to be lower than normal for the region, unlike other parts of New Zealand which are expected to have near normal soil moisture levels and river flows through to the end of March.

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Regional predictions for January to March, 2014:

Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty

* Above average temperatures

* Near average or above average rainfall

* Near normal soil moisture levels

* Near normal river flows

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Central North Island and Wellington

* Above average temperatures

* Normal rainfall, soil moisture levels and river flows

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Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa

* Above average temperatures

* Near normal rainfall, soil moisture levels and river flows

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Nelson, Marlborough and Buller

* Near average or above average temperatures

* Near normal or below normal rainfall and river flows

* Below normal soil moisture levels

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West Coast, Southern Alps and foothills, inland Otago and Southland

* Near average or above average temperatures

* Near normal rainfall, soil moisture levels and river flows

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Coastal Canterbury and east Otago

* Near average or above average temperatures

* Near normal rainfall, soil moisture levels and river flows

Source: Niwa

- APNZ

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