Few subjects get New Zealanders going as much as the weather, especially when it disappoints as much as it has this summer.

So it is hardly surprising when the warmest season threatens to end before it has barely started that suggestions arise as to how we might throw ourselves a lifeline and imagine that we can still extract the most from something that is yet to arrive.

For weeks it seems, as the country packed up for the holidays, the weather map has been crowded with alerts and warnings - severe wind watches, heavy rain cautions and coastal sea notices.

No part of the country could really say the summer of 2016-17 was one to savour, though it is worth recalling that the summer of 2014 - that's just three years ago - was a damp squib too.

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At the start of January MetService issued a monthly outlook headed "A cold start to the year".

The national forecaster predicted: "After an especially cool start to the year expect a return to average temperatures for most, but remaining on the cooler side for the south and west of the South Island."

The outlook was accurate - temperatures in Auckland this summer on average are 1C down on last year, and about the same in Wellington.

Sitting as we do in the middle latitudes of the western Pacific Ocean, there is no escaping the prevailing track of winds and storms from the west or southwest.

We cannot move the country, so we are stuck with the path of rain-bearing storms, along with the odd ex-tropical cyclone tracking south from the warmer seas to the north of the country.

Can we, then, move summer? United Future leader Peter Dunne - stuck in Wellington's miserable summer - thinks we should grab the idea with both hands.

He believes the only restraint on the idea is that, faced with all the complications of shifting the country's traditional long break by three or four weeks, it suddenly seems too hard.

It would be more accurate to say that the idea has never really been given much serious thought. New Zealanders, by tradition, take their holidays around Christmas and New Year because the country historically closed down.

It doesn't now, and hasn't for some time, though it remains the summer break for most people.

What would be needed to shunt summer along a few weeks? The study year would have to alter so families could enjoy time off together.

The Christmas-New Year break would contract, perhaps with statutory holidays shifted to suit.

The peak of the international tourism season is February, when - usually - the weather is most settled.

Popular attractions could get crowded with the country as a whole on a later break, but pressure on highly valued sites could be managed.

Before we get too carried away, it would be best to know whether climate patterns really are

shifting.

Is this year's dismal summer really the new grey reality, or just a climate blip? Perhaps Dunne could spend the rest of summer, such as it is, finding out.