Coldest March in 12 years, NIWA confirms

The nationwide average temperature was 14.8°C.
The nationwide average temperature was 14.8°C. Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand has experienced its coldest March in 12 years.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) monthly climate summary said frequent cold fronts last month led to unusually chilly and windy weather.

The nationwide average temperature was 14.8°C.

NIWA said more than 25 locations experienced record-breaking or near-record low mean temperatures for March, with the lowest temperature of -4.9°C recorded at Waipara North in Canterbury on 16 March.

Many areas also experienced significant dry spells, NIWA said.

"Napier and Hicks Bay observed 31 dry days, as they recorded their second driest and driest March on record, respectively. Meanwhile, an astounding 32 locations observed over 25 dry days in March, including Kerikeri, Gisborne, Blenheim, Kaikōura, Christchurch, Nelson, and Masterton."

The highest temperature was 32.6°C, recorded at Clyde in Central Otago on 2 March.

NIWA said of the six main centres in March, Auckland was the warmest, Dunedin was the coolest and least sunny, Christchurch was the driest, Hamilton was the wettest, and Tauranga was the sunniest.

The highest one-day rainfall was 117mm, recorded at Milford Sound on 25 March.

The highest wind gust was 178km/h which was observed at Cape Turnagain on 26 March.