Amongst the principal meteorological stations Invercargill holds a few records – the lowest mean annual temperature, 49.1° F, the lowest annual average of bright sunshine hours, 1,661, and the highest average of rain days, 199. With an annual rainfall of 42.8 in., the effectiveness of precipitation during the summer period is high and pastures do not dry out; but in the winter months the pastures are closed off and winter feeding is undertaken between mid-June and early spring. Frosts are severe in winter; Gore averages 114 per annum and they extend into spring, delaying spring growth. To meet these contingencies root crops and cereals are sown for supplementary feed, very little being sold off the farm. In the 1959–60 season approximately one-eighth (183,199 acres) of the one and a half million acres of cultivated land was cropped for fodder.
The lowest rainfall is experienced in the Five Rivers, Waimea, and Waikaka districts, which are the principal fat-lamb-producing areas. Towards the coast and westwards, rainfall increases, and along the general line of the Mataura, especially between Gore and Mataura and around Wyndham and Edendale, dairying prevails, in association with fat-lamb production. Other dairying areas are concentrated between Invercargill and Wyndham, around Otautau, on the Aparima River, and Tuatapere, on the River Waiau. In the Southland Plain the principal areas of fat-lamb production are the Morton Mains, Woodlands, the Dipton, and the Drummond districts.