More comprehensive mountain forecasts aid safety in the outdoors

From Wednesday 31 July, you'll see a new format for the Mountain forecasts that MetService produces under its commercial contract with the Department of Conservation.

While the current mountain forecasts for various National Parks are short and to the point, they rely to an extent on the user being able to "join the dots". One of the main aims of the new format is to be as clear as possible about those weather conditions influencing safety in the outdoors.

Each mountain forecast will contain:

The Shortest Day

June 21st is the Northern Solstice and marks the shortest day here in the Southern Hemisphere.  On the 21st the sunrise is around 7:48am and sunset 5:00pm in Wellington, giving just over 9 hours of potential sunshine for the capital. The timing of sunrise and sunset varies from location to location, sunrise in Gisborne being almost an hour earlier than in Invercargill.  You can find the sunrise and sunset times for the next ten days on the forecast pages at, just underneath the towns and cities forecasts.

Napoleon’s Winter

What would New Zealand’s history be like without the First and Second World Wars? Blame the terrible Russian winter and Napoleon’s folly according to historian Adam Zamoyski in his riveting book 1812 Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow. The losses suffered in the invasion, particularly to his cavalry, ensured Napoleon’s downfall the following summer. That led to an aggressive Germany unified under a militaristic Prussia while in Russia, the Tsar came to believe he was God’s instrument on Earth.

iwonderweather website: adding ‘weather-flavoured insights’ to our history

For those who’ve ever wondered how weather events have helped shape New Zealand’s history, now there’s a website that seeks to tell the stories.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the Wahine on 10 April 1968 – perhaps New Zealand’s most recognised weather disaster – so we thought it a fitting time to introduce you to our weather history website:

A new dish

A new satellite receiver ("dish"), for improved reception of data from polar-orbiting weather satellites, was installed at MetService in early February.


Polar-orbiting weather satellites yield rich information about the atmosphere, valuable for New Zealand weather forecasting.

Benefits of faster access to more data, and sharper identification tools, include:

Why it's been so dry

For about the last month, anticyclones have dominated the New Zealand area. Many places have had little or no rainfall since early February.

The map below shows the average mean sea level pressure over the New Zealand area over the last month or so. There's no doubt about the pressure being high and not changing very much. Because this map shows averaged pressures, we don't see the few troughs that have passed across the New Zealand area in the last 28 or so days.

It’s a fine day. Isn’t it?

What do we mean when we say the weather is “fine”?

The word fine is often used to convey the positive attributes of something. It is synonymous with good, well, enjoyable.

How are you? I’m fine!
How was the movie? It was fine.
This is a fine bottle of wine.

When we write weather forecasts we define the term fine to mean that the sun casts sharp shadows. If cloud is thick enough to stop the sun from casting sharp shadows then, even if it doesn’t rain, we don’t think that’s a fine day.