4 Dec 2014

End in sight to summer cold snap

6:29 am on 4 December 2014

The country is in the midst of its coldest start to a summer since 2006 - but the good news is it shouldn't last for much longer.

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Temperatures have dropped below freezing at night in some places and bitter southwesterlies are to blame.

MetService forecaster John Law said temperatures in Auckland and Hamilton peaked at about 17°C this week, while Wellington and Christchurch had it even worse, averaging about 14°C.

"Those first couple of days have been dominated by a good southwesterly flow over the last few weeks of November and the start of December. It's been a couple of chilly nights so far," said Mr Law.

Tourist Dave Robinson is over from Britain at the moment to escape their winter, but said he may as well have stayed home.

"We knew we were going to get a mixed weather, but then it dropped down and now we're in fleeces and overcoats," he said.

Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Guiding companies on Aoraki Mt Cook have been frustrated by the weather Photo: PHOTO NZ

The Department of Conservation's Aoraki Mt Cook ranger Ray Bellinger said he was worried for the area's plant life.

He said climbers had been kept off the mountain because of the snow.

"For the guiding companies it's quite frustrating. It does make it difficult, especially for those climbing Aoraki Mt Cook," he said.

"There have been a number of guiding parties at Plateau Hut over the last few weeks and they're not actually summitting. There could be something like refunds."

At the Dunedin Botanic Garden, the wind has torn branches off trees, while visitor numbers are down because of the cold.

Summerfruit New Zealand said its fruit crop is ripening too slowly, and harvests would be down.

Vegetables New Zealand spokesman John Seymour said its growers were also struggling.

"What has been quite badly affected is potatoes and it looks like carrots might be a bit shorter in supply. If it's short, then that tends to put prices up," he said.

But John Law said the cold weather shouldn't last for much longer.

"The good news is I think we've seen the last of the cold temperatures," he said.

"We're back into some northwesterlies and we should see those temperatures picking back up again as we head into the next couple of days.

"They should go back up to around 23°C or so for the likes of Christchurch."

MetService said this month could end up being one of the driest on record.

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