New Zealand’s climate

The difference between climate and weather The term ‘climate’ refers to long-term weather patterns, including:

Part of story: Climate

New words

The main domains or sources which contribute the most new words to New Zealand English, in addition to te reo Māori, are politics, sport, crime, farming and the environment.

Part of story: English language in New Zealand

Nights of the month

The new moon determined the start of the lunar month, which lasted 29 and a half days. Rather than referring to the days of the month, Māori spoke of nights, and each night had

Part of story: Maramataka – the lunar calendar

Recording information

Modern weather forecasting depends on detailed knowledge of current conditions.

Part of story: Weather forecasting

Using climate data

Gathering data At some sites in New Zealand daily weather records have been collected since the 1840s. For a long time these observations were made by volunteers and government

Part of story: Weather forecasting

Types of clay

Kaolinite Kaolinite, New Zealand’s most common clay mineral, is formed by the deep weathering of many different rocks such as granite, schist and greywacke. It is widely quarried and

Part of story: Rock, limestone and clay

Open water swimming

Open water swimming is a competition against nature. Swimmers must be fit and determined to succeed against rips, waves, bad weather and tides – with only their swimsuit and a layer of grease to protect them.

Part of story: Open water swimming

Te Ao Mārama – the natural world

The natural world forms a cosmic family, in the traditional Māori view. The weather, birds, fish and trees, sun and moon are related to each other, and to the people of the land.

Part of story: Te Ao Mārama – the natural world

Seasonal activity

New Zealand’s insects are usually active year-round. The surrounding oceans temper the climate and contribute to regular rainfall. Winters are relatively mild, and many

Part of story: Insects – overview


New Zealand is roughly midway between Antarctica and the tropics, lying between latitudes 34° and 47° south. It is on the edge of the ‘roaring forties’, a zone of high winds and stormy seas.

Part of story: Natural environment


Surrounded by ocean, New Zealand is regularly swept by weather systems that bring heavy rain.

Part of story: Floods

Ngā manu – birds

Birds had a vital place in traditional Māori life, providing food, and feathers for adornment and cloaks. Their habits were closely observed, and were a rich source of metaphor and poetry.

Part of story: Ngā manu – birds