The Levin town clock cannot be trusted to give the correct temperature reading - or even tell the right time.

Metservice records showed Levin recorded its hottest temperature in history on Tuesday - 32.6 degrees - a reading which brought the integrity of the town clock into question and suggested it was prone to exaggeration.

A Horowhenua Chronicle photographer snapped a picture on Tuesday showing 34 degrees, while a Facebook post doing the rounds showed 36 degrees on the clock at one stage the same day.

MetService meteorologist Angus Hines said 32.6 degrees was the second highest temperature in New Zealand recorded that day, behind Taumarunui with 33.6 degrees.


"Unofficially, we think this is the warmest temp ever recorded in Levin, but we are waiting for that to be verified," he said.

Hines said the official Levin recording site was located west of the town centre, near Mako Mako Road and near the SPCA centre.

He said a variety of standards had to be met when choosing the right site for accurate temperature measurements.

"There will be some natural variation in temperatures across an area but our weather stations are highly calibrated," he said.

"They have to be placed in an open and exposed area, a minimum distance away from any buildings or tall trees."

Each thermometer was housed in a screen, which regulated air flow and provided shade, and kept 1.25m above the ground.

MetService stations were calibrated at least once a year, and while other stations might show higher temperatures, they were unlikely to meet the same criteria.

For example, in a town centre like Levin the thermometer was close to concrete roads and buildings and the sun passed overhead, which would inflate the temperature compared to a formal temperature reading.


The same day, January 29 last year was also very hot in Levin, with photographs of the town clock showing 31 degrees.

The warmest temperature recorded in NZ was 42.4C in Rangiora in 1973.

Meanwhile, the Levin town clock was also having trouble telling time. A clock with four faces, it was telling three different times at once.

Horowhenua District Council spent $66,500 in 2009 refurbishing and upgrading the clock, with $31,000 from a donation from the Horowhenua Community Trust.

Council property and parks manager Arthur Nelson said a contractor would carry out the necessary repair this month, and the work would be completed within a month.

Nelson said as there is no internal access to the clock, repairing it will require scaffolding, and measures to protect the public during the repairs. It would also require a traffic management plan.

Nelson said if the current mechanism required replacing, the work would be delayed.

The clock was donated by the Levin Rotary Club and has a German mechanism. It was first installed in 1997.