Thought the beach was colder this year? You're right

If you thought swimming in the sea felt a little chillier this year, you'd be right.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research's (NIWA) has confirmed to Newshub the ocean around New Zealand is at least 2degC colder than it usually is at this time of year.

It's been worse than that at Fitzroy beach near New Plymouth. The water temperature was 3.5 degC colder today than on same day last year.

The water at Mt Maunganui is 2.5degC cooler.

And while the difference isn't quite as noticeable at Sumner beach in Christchurch, the water is still chillier.

Sometimes, the idea of having a swim is better than the reality.

Regular ocean swimmer Stuart Whitney says - this summer - that's true more than ever.

"I've been swimming in the Auckland waters for ten years - I've never known a summer temperature like this," he says.

He's right.

NIWA says the water's at least 2degC colder than normal this January, the different between wearing wetsuit or not.

And for some places - like the West Coast - it's 3.5degC colder.

"We're talking a seasonal change really - it's more spring-type water temperatures than you would expect for summer," says NIWA's Nava Fedaeff.

Beaches on the east coast aren't feeling the effects quite as much because they're sheltered from the cold winds and water that have been coming from the south-west.

But it's also colder - because of the recent storms across the country.

"It really churned up the seas and brought some of that colder water from below the surface, closer to the top," Ms Fedaeff says.

But hotter weather is on the way, and that's good news for swimmers.

If you fancy a dip, the first week of March is your best bet, when NIWA says the water should be 3 degC warmer.