Tekapo to take title of place with most sunshine hours in Aotearoa

Guess where the sunniest place in the country is? 

Here's a clue: it's not where you live - and it's probably not where anyone you even know lives either. 

Provisional results from one of New Zealand’s leading climate experts are in, and for the first time ever, the centre that notched the most sunshine hours in Aotearoa looks to belong to Tekapo/Takapō. 

Tourists were out in their droves at Lake Tekapo/Takapō on Friday - and in 2023, so too was the sun. So much so, it can soon be named the sunniest centre in Aotearoa. 

"It's just awesome. Not exactly a surprise, but certainly another feather in the cap for Takapō, which already shares a number of accolades," said Steve Howes, chair of the Takapō Community Board chair. 

Plant and Food Research released its data this week on provisional sunlight hours for 2023. One of their scientists has correctly predicted the winner for the past 20 years. 

"I don't think the title itself will make much difference. I think Takapō is the place to be irrespective to be honest," Howes told Newshub. 

"We're approaching pre-COVID levels with hospitality, and it's just another reason to visit - but certainly not the main reason." 

Based on the provisional rankings it could be a clean sweep for Te Waipounamu/the South Island. 

Richmond looks set to take second place, followed by nearby Appleby in third, while Cromwell sits in fourth and Blenheim in fifth. New Plymouth, meanwhile, is the sunniest centre in the North Island, ranked sixth. 

Four Square Takapō owner Jason Jeffries has lived in the area his whole life, but said there are some downsides to the sunshine. 

"There's a huge farming community around here, and if they don't get the rain, it's pretty hard to farm," he told Newshub. 

"So as much as we love it, it is hard on other people. It is what it is." 

And after a year of wet weather in the north, should Auckland residents consider moving south? 

"My parents have just moved to Christchurch, and the water is freezing there, and it's really windy in Christchurch. I think the North Island's got the better water," said one man Newshub spoke to. 

"No, personally I haven't thought about going there," said one woman. 

"Winter is actually one of my favourite times, you know, cold mornings, cold late afternoons, but beautiful days with heaps of sunshine," Howes said

"I've grown up here for 30-odd years, and just love it. Especially when it's sunny, you can get out and enjoy it. There's plenty of wilderness still here, there's a lot of untouched stuff," said Jeffries

"I absolutely love the town and love sharing it with others." 

NIWA will release the official results next week.