New Zealanders endured another topsy-turvy year of weather in 2010, which moved from drought and heatwaves to furious storms, and back to near-drought.

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research records showed it has been a warmer-than-usual year, with eight out of the last 10 months hotter than average.

The year threatened to get off to a cold and wet start in January, before heatwaves took over and most of New Zealand experienced above average temperatures and sunshine hours.

The El Nino weather pattern, which is associated with low rainfall, turned Northland tinder dry, and the Government stepped in to help farmers in February.

Cheviot, an hour and a half north of Christchurch, recorded the hottest day of the year with a sweltering 35.6C in February. That temperature was still well below the highest reading in New Zealand, 42.4C in Marlborough and Rangiora in 1973.

Auckland had its driest February since records began, with only 5mm of rainfall.

The golden weather continued into autumn in the North Island, and Northland, Canterbury and Otago farmers all struggled with dry paddocks.

As El Nino dissipated in May heavy and persistent rainfall loosened the grip of dry weather.

Wellington lived up to its reputation as the windy city, recording the most severe wind gust of 216km/h, a record for the site at Baring Head.

The highest recorded wind gust in New Zealand is 250km/h.

Winter brought a dry July, but also a wet June and August on the eastern sides of both islands.

The highest one-day rainfall was in Taranaki, but the winter will be remembered for a weather bomb in early June in the Bay of Plenty.

Whakatane and Matata residents were evacuated from their homes in the face of rising floodwaters after 124mm of rain fell in two hours.

Motorists were trapped by rising water at Matata, near the site of flooding and huge landslips in 2005, and State Highway 2 was closed overnight.

The storms caused $3.15 million of damage in Whakatane alone.

Nationally, our winter was 0.5C warmer than average.

The rainfall disappeared in October and November as parts of Auckland and Northland recorded their driest spring. But first the North Island endured a torrid September, and two more blistering storms.

In mid-September Auckland was battered by a night of regular 100km/h gusts, which closed the motorway in rush-hour traffic, cut power and uprooted trees across the city.

Even the hardiest surfers kept out of the water as Auckland's west coast beaches were pounded by eight-metre swells and rarely seen four-metre waves.

Invercargill farmers saw huge losses of lambs - one farmer lost 1000 - as heavy snowfall struck Southland.

The year ended with record-breaking heat, including the hottest November day - 32.3C in Cromwell.

Despite droughts, floods, tornadoes and snow, weather analyst Philip Duncan said it was not considered a year of extremes. "It's easy for the media to use the word 'extreme' but really the stormy weather events this year were fairly isolated and few and far between," he said.

His highlights included a drought declared in Northland on the same day the North Island was pummelled by heavy showers and thunderstorms, as well as a storm the size of Australia hitting New Zealand for several days in September.