Weather: Risk of overheating as scorching temperatures hit New Zealand

Parts of the country can expect seriously hot temperatures later this week.
Parts of the country can expect seriously hot temperatures later this week. Photo credit: Getty Images / MetService

People in parts of the South Island are being warned to stay hydrated and take care with an intense heatwave forecast to roll in later this week. 

Te Whatu Ora is urging people to keep cool as temperatures are predicted to reach 32C in Christchurch on Thursday. 

Canterbury medical health officer Dr Matt Reid said while a run of hot weather is appealing, overheating can be fatal. 

"It's especially important to stay out of the sun where possible, avoid extreme physical exertion, and ensure pets and people are not left alone in stationary cars," Dr Reid said. 

"While we are all vulnerable to hot temperatures, some people are particularly at risk. This includes the elderly, infants and children, women who are pregnant, people suffering from chronic, acute and severe illness," he added. 

He suggested easy steps to take to reduce the risk of high temperatures: 

  • Avoiding going outside during the hottest time of the day 
  • Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and caffeine 
  • Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, light-coloured cotton clothes 

Dr Reid said people doing strenuous physical activity outdoors should avoid overheating in hot weather. 

"It's important people exposed to hot weather for long periods of time carry water with them and sip at least half a litre an hour, allow for more breaks in the shade, reapply sunscreen every two hours, and schedule the hardest work in the coolest part of the day," he said. 

He said those who feel dizzy, weak or have an intense thirst or headache may be dehydrated. 

"Drink some water and rest in a cool place. If your symptoms persist or you're concerned about your health, or someone else's, seek medical advice," he said. 

According to MetService, people in Canterbury can expect temperatures around 32C on Thursday. 

However, that's not the worst of it.

MetService meteorologist Ngaire Wotherspoon warned people in Hamner Springs could experience temperatures even higher.  

"That heat is going to be really widespread and people all over Canterbury can expect a few really hot days," Wotherspoon told Newshub. 

"We already have some quite warm temperatures at the moment and that's going to be exacerbated," she said. 

Wotherspoon admitted the heat hitting Canterbury would be "a bit of a problem since there aren't many trees around". 

"For Christchurch it will get above 30C on Thursday, and over the weekend they will be seeing those temperatures up again," she said.

"The second half of this week is definitely looking like a heatwave."  

On Saturday and Sunday, a high of 30C is forecast for Christchurch, and Wotherspoon recommends avoiding outdoor adventures in exposed places. 

"I definitely recommend caution around going on hikes, especially on the Port Hills, because it's really hard to stay out of the sun," she said.  

"If Christchurch is looking like 32C, it'll be similar elsewhere and especially in exposed places -  you'll really feel it." 

She said there are answers to why the hot conditions will be hitting the east coast. 

"We're getting this front coming up the west coast on Thursday, known as the Foehn effect, bringing strong winds and a period of heavy rain for Fiordland and the southern west coast," she said.

"This can really affect the east coast with all the wind, causing it to feel hot and dry."  

"Twizel and Mackenzie Basin will also see that widespread heat, along with Otago and Marlborough," she said. 

"It's going to be a really hot few days, and people need to be prepared."