Waitangi Day weather: Scorching temperatures for most of New Zealand, heavy rain for lower South Island

New Zealanders with a day off work for Waitangi Day should plan on getting the sunglasses, jandals and sunblock out as Tuesday is set to be basked in sunshine with scorching temperatures.  

But not everywhere will have a fine and hot day, with weather warnings and watches in place for the lower South Island.  

A ridge of high pressure is currently centred over most of New Zealand with hot temperatures expected.  

Many places on the east coast of the South Island will see temperatures in the thirties, with Blenheim expected to be the hottest place in New Zealand on Tuesday with a temperature of 35 degrees.   

Banks Peninsula and Hilltop forecast to reach 34C, Christchurch is expected to hit a high of 33C and Ashburton 30C.   

Most of the North Island should see temperatures in the mid-to-high twenties on Tuesday but a few places will crack the thirties.   

MetService said Wairoa and Masterton should reach 31C while Gisborne and Hastings are forecast to be 30C.

MetService meteorologist Ngaire Wotherspoon told Newshub the reason the east coast of the South Island will see hot temperatures is down to the Foehn wind, a downslope wind that occurs in the lee downwind side of a mountain range. 

"It's a pretty classic pattern for those eastern areas, especially in the South Island, when you get strong northwesterlies going across the country, especially if they're moist," she said.   

"They sort of lose the moisture that's in them as rain on the West Coast and then you get this really hot, dry air coming down on the east coast."    

The lower South Island is in the firing line for bad weather, with warnings and watches in place.   

MetService said "strong, moist northwest flow" is bringing an extended period of heavy rain to Fiordland.  

An orange heavy rain warning is in place for Fiordland from 8am on Tuesday to 10am on Wednesday with 250mm of rain expected at peak rates of 20mm/h.   

"Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous," MetService said.   

A heavy rain watch is in place for Westland south of Franz Josef from 10pm Tuesday until 2pm Wednesday and Southland south of Lumsden and Gore from 2pm Tuesday until 2am Wednesday.  

Tropical Cyclone alert for Southern Cook Islands 

While New Zealand might be getting beautiful weather, the Cook Islands may be in the firing line for some wild weather.  

A tropical cyclone alert has been issued for the southern Cook Islands. 

The tropical depression is expected to intensify into a category one tropical cyclone in the next six to 12 hours.  

Fiji Meteorological Service senior scientific officer Iosefo Cauravouvinaka told RNZ Pacific the tropical disturbance is about 650km northwest of Aitutaki, which is the second-most populated island in the Cook Islands.  

Waitangi Day weather: Scorching temperatures for most of New Zealand, heavy rain for lower South Island
Photo credit: Fiji Meteorological Service

Wotherspoon told Newshub there is a very low risk of the tropical depression impacting New Zealand.

But she added there is a different tropical low that is currently northwest of New Caledonia.
She told Newshub the current models have a lot of "different solutions" of where this tropical low might impact.

At this stage, there is a 5 to 10 percent chance it might impact New Zealand and she described it as "low risk".   

Temperatures expected on Waitangi Day:

  • Auckland: 26C  
  • Hamilton: 28C  
  • Tauranga: 26C  
  • Masterton: 31C  
  • Wellington: 22C  
  • Blenheim: 35C  
  • Ashburton: 30C  
  • Christchurch: 33C  
  • Dunedin: 26C