Key Points:

The year 2008 was a year of extremes with many regions enjoying above average temperatures but also experiencing severe flooding.

Niwa scientist James Renwick today described the year as "a roller-coaster of extreme events".

He said the winter brought 18 damaging floods which claimed 10 lives and caused $68 million damages, according to the Insurance Council.

He said sea temperatures were above normal, while parts of the Waikato experienced its worst drought in over 100 years of records.

Winter also saw the coldest May since 1992, giving Ruapehu its deepest snow base since the same year.

Dr Renwick said there were also cold snaps with Auckland experiencing two days of frost in a row, which was unusual.

During spring, there were strong westerly winds, with containers on Wellington wharves being blown around in gusts of wind of up to 160km/h.

In the South Island, November's Tour of Southland cycle race had to be shortened and experienced its worst conditions in over 30 years.

"December was relatively warm, a little bit warmer than average," Dr Renwick said.

He said dry soils in eastern areas had been alleviated in Gisborne but parts of the South Island are "still on the dry side".

He said apart from the northern part of Northland and areas in the Tasman district, it was sunnier than normal - more than 15 per cent in several regions.

Dr Renwick said New Zealand's weather last year was in line with global trends.

He said it was the 18th warmest year on record going back to 1850 in New Zealand while globally it was the tenth warmest.

Highest rainfall

Recorded at Cropp River inland from Hokitika with 10940mm

Lowest rainfall

Alexandra with 376mm. Both Clyde and Middlemarch were also below 400mm.

Highest temperature

Timaru 34.8C on two January 12 and March 14,.

Waioni also recorded that temperature on January 22.

Highest average temperature

Leigh just north of Auckland with 16.5C.

Lowest air temperature

Mt Cook with -9.5 degrees Celsius.

Rainfall and sunshine in the main centres:

Auckland: 1226mm of rainfall, 2108 hours of sunshine.
Hamilton: 1220mm of rainfall, 2057 hours of sunshine.
Wellington: 1662mm of rainfall, 2201 hours of sunshine.
Christchurch: 704mm of rainfall, 2234 hours of sunshine.
Dunedin: 705mm of rainfall, 1912 hours of sunshine.