New Zealand weather: Summer heat expected to continue into autumn

New Zealand weather: Summer heat expected to continue into autumn
Photo credit: Getty, NIWA

New Zealand's hot, dry summer is expected to continue into autumn this year as some areas grapple with drought.

NIWA has released their weather outlook for February through to April 2021, which predicts the non-traditional central Pacific La Niña will continue to impact New Zealand's climate.

Extended dry spells are expected through the coming months due to prominent high pressure.

Temperatures in the North Island are most likely to be above average - particularly in the upper parts, from Northland stretching down to the eastern Bay of Plenty and Taupo.

NIWA forecaster Ben Noll said temperatures are expected to be near average or above around the rest of the country.

"[There] may be some beach days extending into autumn for some parts of the country," he said.

"Upper North Island, you want to keep your fan or air conditioning handy as it could be a factor as we go into the autumn season. Further south there will be some periods of summer-like weather which will be interrupted by some cooler southerlies."

He said February's weather is expected to be a bit variable, but March will be smoother.

"We've got some briefly unsettled weather coming up in early February, but it won't necessarily stay that way with the high pressure and dryness continuing to be a factor as we work our way through the season. One of the drivers is the non-traditional La Nina that we have going on."

The long-term temperature average for Auckland is 18.1C, just below the country's hottest area Kaitaia on 18.5C. Dunedin will have the lowest long-term average temperature at 13.5C.

Rainfall is expected to be either normal or below normal across New Zealand in the coming months, although parts of Northland and eastern North Island will likely have unusually dry conditions.

Currently, there is meteorological drought and severe meteorological drought occurring in Northland's Far North District.

This comes after a scorcher January as well, with above-average temperatures observed in much of the upper and eastern North Island, along with parts of coastal Canterbury. The highest temperature was 39.3C, observed at Ashburton on January 26. 

For much of the South Island, temperatures were near average.

Oamaru and Clyde both experienced their wettest January on record.