New Zealand’s weather is shaped by its mountains, the ocean surrounding the country and the winds from the roaring forties.

Part of story: Weather

Weather forecasting

With its elongated shape, New Zealand can be subtropically warm in the north and bitterly cold in the south, on the same day.

Part of story: Weather forecasting

Extreme weather

‘My overwhelming feelings at the time were partly fear and panic, but mainly helplessness and powerlessness. For a time there was nowhere to hide from the forces of nature …’ Brian

Part of story: Weather

Tāwhirimātea – the weather

New Zealand’s rapid weather changes, frequent rain, distinctive cloud patterns and strong winds all had a huge influence on the daily life of Māori.

Part of story: Tāwhirimātea – the weather

Factors determining weather

The weather is the particular atmospheric conditions and events at any one time. The climate is the average and the range of conditions over several decades.

Part of story: Weather

Predicting the weather

Māori observed birds carefully, and their actions were often believed to predict the weather.

Part of story: Ngā manu – birds

Weather and climate

A climate of extremes

Part of story: Canterbury region

Origins of the weather

Tāwhirimātea While the Māori word for weather is rangi (also meaning sky), in Māori tradition the deity who controls the weather is Tāwhirimātea.

Part of story: Tāwhirimātea – the weather

Cold weather, mist and rainbows

Snow, hail and frost Snow was known as huka or huka rere. Hail was either ua whatu (rain stones) or huka-ā-whatu (stone like snow). Hukapapa was ice or frost, while hukapiri referred to hard

Part of story: Tāwhirimātea – the weather

Early forecasting

Polynesian and Māori forecasting

Part of story: Weather forecasting

Ancient soils

Extensive areas of land from the Coromandel Peninsula to Northland have escaped erosion or volcanic ash deposition for more than 50,000 years. Smaller areas occur in Wellington,

Part of story: Soils

Search and rescue

Under clear skies, two trampers set off for a short walk in the hills. The weather turns stormy, and by evening they still haven’t returned. Who do you turn to?

Part of story: Search and rescue