Winter solstice: The longest night is here

Late winter light falls over Auckland's CBD. Photo / Richard Robinson.
Late winter light falls over Auckland's CBD. Photo / Richard Robinson.

The days are dark and the moon is hanging low, long into the morning. This can only mean one thing: winter solstice is almost here.

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year and it starts when the moon sets at 10:34am, according to weatherwatch.co.nz.

The solstice is when the sun reaches its northern-most point, delivering just a few hours of sunlight for the Southern Hemisphere.

The sun will set at 5.10pm tonight in Auckland, and rise at 7.34am tomorrow morning, a night over 14 hours in length.

According to Philip Duncan of Weatherwatch, Invercargill will have just eight hours and 35 minutes of sunlight tomorrow while Auckland will have nine hours and 38 minutes.


Thousands of people celebrate the event around the world, including in New Zealand, where the winter solstice traditionally marked Matariki.

Christchurch residents, for example, are invited to "bling out" their bikes for the annual Winter Solstice Night Light Bike Ride to promote cycle safety.

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 people are expected tomorrow for a celebration of summer solstice at Stonehenge according to the Independent. Because the stones are said to be aligned with the sunrises of both winter and summer solstice, the neolithic site has long been considered a place of power by pagans and is a traditional site of solstice celebration.

For New Zealand, winter solstice marks the beginning of longer days and shorter nights as the magic of summer creeps back into the lives of Kiwis.

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