The West Coast may finally be in line for more better days than bad ones next month, a national forecaster says, as the region suffers through one of its wettest and coldest summers in memory.

What started out as a sizzling tourist season has been dampened by constant rain since mid-December, events were cancelled and roads closed by flooding and slips.

The one bright spot of the rotten summer is that the glaciers are not melting quite as fast.

The Accuweather long range forecast does not show any substantial improvement until March, though later this week should be fine.


The dismal summer saw the Kumara Races abandoned at the start of January due to dangerous track conditions, then the Westland A & P Show was cancelled for the first time since 1971, due to sodden Hokitika Racecourse and last week the Waitangi Day Community Picnic in Greymouth was canned because the ground was too wet for the hangi.

On January 19 a major slip at Deception Point, between Aickens and Otira, smothered the Arthur's Pass highway and railway, cutting the main links to Canterbury for about four days.

Three weeks later, a fire on the Canterbury side again closed the Midland Line railway link, this time for at least six weeks and resulting in the cancellation of 17,000 Tranz Alpine bookings to Greymouth.

Hokitika weather observer Mark Crompton said that with an average temperature of 14.1C, it was the coldest January since 1993, which averaged 13.7C.

It was "quite extraordinary" that the maximum temperature exceeded 20C on one day only.

It was also the wettest January in 23 years.

The longest "dry spell" lasted just two days, on January 4-5.

Niwa principal scientist forecasting Chris Brandolino said January rainfall was more than double normal on the West Coast.

In the first 11 days of February 100mm of rain fell - 52 per cent of the month's usual rainfall.

"You've had your fair share in the first 11 days," Brandolino said.

- Greymouth Star