Rotorua has enjoyed its warmest May on record and a warmer than usual autumn with winter looking like continuing the trend.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said autumn's average temperature was 14.9C, 1.6C above the norm for the city.

May's mean temperature was 13.2C, the warmest May on record since observations began at the Rotorua Airport in 1964.

"This is a whopping 2.5C above the May norm."


The highest temperature recorded last month at Rotorua Airport was 20C on May 6.

Mr Adams said despite the warmer temperatures, the autumn rainfall in Rotorua was near normal this year.

"The autumn [March to May] total was 301mm this year, compared to the norm of 334mm.

"That is, Rotorua received 89 per cent of autumn normal rainfall."

Mr Adams said March had been very wet, with a lot of humid northerlies and downpours, before a rather dry April and May.

The rainfall over April and May sat at 60 per cent.

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Looking ahead, National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (Niwa) forecaster Chris Brandolino said Rotorua, and the rest of the north-end of the North Island, could expect warmer than usual temperatures for the upcoming winter season.

But don't put away the electric blankets just yet.

Mr Brandolino said although the end of June to August would be warmer than it typically was at that time of year, it "doesn't mean there won't be cold snaps and frosts".

People may use their heaters less and may "save a few bucks" in their winter budget, he said.

He said this year's winter rainfall would be in the above average' category, and Niwa's seasonal climate outlook says there is a 50 per cent chance of this.

Warmer ocean temperatures may also serve as fuel or energy for potential storms, which was something Niwa would be keeping an eye on this winter, he said.

Meanwhile, more than 15cm of fresh snow has settled on Mount Ruapehu in the past few days as the temperatures have dropped.

The 2016 ski season opening is scheduled for July 2 at the Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas.