Northland residents are getting the most sunshine hours - but those in the deep south are still more in the dark.

New figures released yesterday show we are gaining about 10 minutes of extra sunlight each week as we hit the tail end of winter, with Whangarei the pick of the main centres and Invercargill the poor cousin.

But despite mild winter conditions that have been branded "sprinter" by forecasters - blurring spring and winter - summer is definitely not upon us yet.

The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for the South Island's West Coast, forecasting periods of heavy rain in Fiordland and Westland for the next few days.


State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford Sound was due to be closed overnight due to wintry conditions, and will be reviewed this morning.

Egmont and Tongariro national parks and the Ruahine Range were forecast to have snow to 1600m overnight and the Tararua Range was set for snowfall to 1400m. Severe gales are expected in the Tararuas, following a wild weekend of weather that hammered parts of the lower North Island, with huge seas causing coastal erosion on the Kapiti Coast.

In contrast, higher temperatures are expected for some areas in the North Island in coming days, as warm winds from Australia give way to mild conditions across some parts of the country.

Despite some rain, wind and snow, our days are getting noticeably longer, five weeks on from the shortest day of the year.

The upper North Island has passed the 10-hour mark of daily sunshine, with Auckland now notching 10 hours and 7 minutes per day. Whangarei is enjoying the most daily sunshine hours of the main centres at 10 hours and 9 minutes.

The lower South Island by comparison has 50 minutes less daylight, with Invercargill recording 9 hours and 19 minutes per day.

The longer evenings are a forerunner to the summer solstice just before Christmas, which sees the sun set in the upper North Island after 8.30pm.

And anyone pining for the good old Kiwi barbecue can take some comfort. Our days get longer again at the end of September as daylight saving kicks in on the last Sunday of the month.

On September 25, 2am becomes 3am, giving us an extra hour of daylight in the evenings.

Sunshine count:
Whangarei: 7:25am-5:34pm (10 hours and 9 minutes)

Auckland: 7:24am-5:31pm (10 hours and 7 minutes)

Gisborne: 7:14am-5:14pm (10 hours)

New Plymouth: 7:31am-5:29pm (9 hours 58 minutes)

Wellington: 7:34am-5:21pm (9 hours and 47 minutes)

Christchurch: 7:48am-5:23pm (9 hours and 25 minutes)

Dunedin: 8:03am-5:25pm (9 hours and 22 minutes)

Invercargill: 8:13am-5:32pm (9 hours and 19 minutes)