It's the question on every New Zealander's lips today.

How will Aucklanders survive a polar blast that will see temperatures in the country's biggest city tonight dip into single figures?

It's enough to launch a thousand social media hash tags, with #prayforus being the one touted most loudly around NZME HQ's newsroom.

Yes, yes, Christchurch might be headed for zero overnight and Hamilton 1C. You have our sympathy.


But surely the real story is that Aucklanders are expecting a minimum of 6C? Hey, that's literally not freezing!

Remember, you read it here first: stock up this arvo on everything you need to make soy flat lattes and smashed avos n toast, because it'll be chilly outside in Auckland tomorrow.

But just in case you think this is extreme, perhaps we should spare a thought for those who did endure New Zealand's coldest days on record.

Since records began, the cold tap has often been turned on in Aotearoa, bringing not just a bit of a chill, but hostile weather.

Here, we take a look at some of the most extreme weather to hit the country.

Coldest temperature on record: -25.6C - Ranfurly, Otago, July 17, 1903

Robert Rutherford curls a stone during the annual DB curling tournament at Naesby, near Ranfurly in Central Otago, July 13. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Robert Rutherford curls a stone during the annual DB curling tournament at Naesby, near Ranfurly in Central Otago, July 13. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

The coldest temperature ever registered in New Zealand was just 60km away from where the second coldest day was recorded. Back on July 17, 1903, Ranfurly in Otago dropped to -25.6C. "Beef and mutton are frozen, and can only be cut with a saw or chopper, a knife being of no use," one newspaper reported.

The Tuapeka Times, July 18, 1903, reported: "It is some years now since frost of equal severity to the present has been experienced in the district."


Climate scientist Georgina Griffiths says it is not surprising the record is from the central Otago area, as it is the only region with a continental climate of very hot summers and extremely cold winters.

Second coldest temperate on record: -21.6C - Ophir, Central Otago, 1995

The second coldest temperature on record was -21.6C, recorded at Ophir in Central Otago in 1995. Residents remember livestock freezing to the ground and prising frozen hens from their perches.

"We would have to cart buckets of water to the toilet to be able to flush because all of the pipes were frozen," recalls Jack Allen, an Ophir local.

Third coldest temperature: -21C - Omarama, June 24, 2015

South Canterbury and Otago endured New Zealand's coldest day in 20 years on June 24, 2015. Niwa's climate summary for June recorded the lowest temperature at Tara Hills, near Omarama in the Mackenzie Country.

This temperature is one of the lowest ever recorded in New Zealand.

Hoar Frost in Omarama, June 24, 2015. Photo / Stephen King /Twitter
Hoar Frost in Omarama, June 24, 2015. Photo / Stephen King /Twitter

Fourth coldest temperature: -19.8C - Pukaki Aerodrome, near Mount Cook, June 23, 2015.

It was a bone-chilling couple of days during June with Pukaki nearly matching Omarama's -21C just the day before. Local Kirsty Williamson said: "It was really hard to keep the water running in the house ... the power's been a big issue", with last week's snow still frozen to the ground, she said in 2015.

Fifth coldest temperature: -19.7C - Ophir, Central Otago, 1943

Most rainfall in 12 hours:

566mm at Prices Flat, Hokitika, May 11, 1978

Least rainfall in a year: 212mm Alexandra, 1964

Deadliest storm: 54 fatalities, Cyclone Giselle in 1968 (most on board the Wahine ferry)

Deadliest tornado: Three fatalities, Hamilton, 1948

Strongest wind: 275km/h, Cook Strait, Cyclone Giselle, 1968

Biggest snowstorm: July 24, 1939. 6m of snow in Gore and Balclutha. Snow in Northland and Auckland

The forecast ahead? Well, thankfully, it's not as extreme as all that:

Auckland: Morning showers, strong winds easing becoming fine. High 16C dropping to 6C overnight.

Hamilton: Early morning showers then fine. High 15C dropping to 1C overnight.

Wellington: Mix of showers and fine weather. Gales ease after lunch. High 11C dropping to 7C overnight.

Christchurch: Showers clearing to fine weather. Southerlies dying out after lunch. High 12C dropping to 0C overnight.

Dunedin: Morning showers then fine. Southwesterlies turn northwest after lunch. High 14C dropping to 6C overnight.