We shivered and sniffled our way through winter this year, with supermarket sales showing spikes in pain killers and heaters.

A whopping 44 per cent more cold and flu remedies were sold this year than last, and heater sales increased by 68 per cent, Countdown supermarket figures showed.

At Foodstuffs, which owns New World and Pak'n Save, cough and cold remedy sales were up 10 per cent, and anti-inflammatory sales up 15 per cent.

Countdown Pharmacy's $2.50 prescriptions were up 40 per cent on the year prior and tissue sales jumped by a comparatively modest 6 per cent.

Christchurch, Tauranga and Auckland exceeded their normal annual rainfall totals by September, with Niwa predicting Auckland could have the wettest year in decades by the end of 2017.


With the wet came the cold, and heater sales reflected the low temperatures.

Heater sales increased by 68 per cent and fire fuel increased by 12 per cent at Countdown. Shoppers ate more than 1.4 million cans of soup over the winter months.

Parsnip, potato, pumpkin, kumara, and onions increased more than 24 per cent on the previous year.

Countdown's merchandise manager Brett Ashley, said Kiwis really embraced traditional hearty meals during this year's atrocious weather.

"We know that as soon as the thermostat starts to plummet and we have shorter days and longer nights, comfort food is what we all start craving.

"Our data shows us that New Zealanders tend to hibernate during the winter months, wrapping up warm, staying indoors and enjoying lots of hearty meals."

Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said vitamin sales rose by 5 per cent this year and customers had indicated they were after food to keep them resilient to winter bugs.

"Oily fish like salmon, shellfish, lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts are top of the list."

Last year the State Services Commission found the average public service worker took 8.6 days of sick leave, up slightly from 8 days in 2015.

This year's figures are due to be released in an annual report in December.