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Being a narrow island nation surrounded by the sea causes the weather in New Zealand to be somewhat fickle. This should be taken into account for those planning on adventuring out into the great outdoors. Always be prepared for extreme cold weather even during the summer months especially in the Southern Alps and the Volcanic Plateau of the North Island. This is not saying that we don't get long warm summer days, the weather here is just unpredictable.
New Zealand is located in the roaring forties (between 34?S and 47?S), which brings about a series of anticyclones, separated by troughs of low pressure, eastward across New Zealand. These winds range from gentle breezes in summer to roaring gales in winter.
The shape of New Zealand has a large influence on the weather pattern. New Zealand's long narrow mountainous spine intercepts the westerly winds forcing mountain generated rain in the west and making it drier in the east, this is known as the rain shadow effect. This is particularly prominent in the South Island, where the mean annual rainfall in Hokitika (west coast) is 2865mm compared to 635mm in Christchurch (east coast). The north island also has this effect where the west side of the volcanic plateau is wetter than the eastern sides although not as extreme as the south island.
Certain areas are also known to have characteristic weather patterns such as windy Wellington, the winter-less north, the Canterbury plains are know to be a dry barren region, Nelson and Blenheim for the large amount of sunshine hours, central Otago for it's hot summers and bitterly cold winters, the West Coast and Fiordland for its high rainfall.
Temperatures in degrees celsius