25 Jan 2018

NZ's record-breaking summer continues

7:37 am on 25 January 2018

New Zealand's record-breaking summer is rolling on, eliciting a whole range of reactions from balmy bliss to sweltering groans.

Dunedin residents took to St Clair Beach to get out of the heat of the day.

St Clair Beach in Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown

"Everyone's hiding from it. Too much I think, yeah," said one mother in 30 degrees heat at Christchurch's Margaret Mahy Playground on Wednesday.

"I love the hot weather, it's beautiful, yeah, really beautiful," said another.

It has been a hot week across central New Zealand and is forecast to get even hotter for many places into the weekend and beyond.

One of those is Wanaka, which faces an official heatwave - that is, five consecutive days of maximums at least five degrees above average - and 33°C or 34°C is forecast for the weekend and Monday.

"I keep saying to myself, 'Don't complain about the hot weather Jackie, it'll be winter before you know it'," said Wanaka insurance broker Jackie Boyd.

"This is the way a central Otago summer used to be."

The bonus is the president of the Wanaka Lake Swimmers club gets to swim without a wetsuit in the notoriously cold lake, where temperatures are now peaking at 20°C instead of the usual 14°C to 16°C .

"We're all swimming in our togs," she laughed, and that could be the case even for some competitors in the annual Ruby lake swimming races this weekend.

"They'll just have to wear plenty of sunscreen I suppose, which they wouldn't normally have done."

A wide swathe of the country was forecast to hit 30 plus today, from Wairoa in the north to Alexandra in the south.

RNZ staffer Anne Jolly, who is visiting Alexandra, followed an online tip to fill a hotwater bottle with cold water, and chill it in the freezer, as a cooling-down device she could carry around.

"That was brilliant," she said.

On the building sites of local firm Breen Construction, some workers were opting for slightly more high-tech scarves and vests that, dunked in cold water, release it slowly from water-bearing crystals.

"It's probably unusual it's been so consistently hot for two or three weeks since everybody came back from holiday," said Chris Lambeth, who manages health and safety for Breen.

In the north, it has been cooler but humid, even at night.

Tauranga was forecast to stay above 20°C overnight for at least nine days from this Saturday and Auckland for at least seven nights.

"I've been starting my day off at half past five with a dip in the sea and another one in the late afternoon," was one local man's response.

However, Niwa forecaster Ben Noll said even sea temperatures remained higher than usual by between two and four degrees.

"So the heatwave we have coming up here over the weekend into early next week for the South Island, impacting Wanaka but many other location as well will likely warm the seas another degree or two.

"It looks like as we head into Monday and Tuesday that will be the apex of the heat. Wanaka you're included, but also coastal Canterbury, Southland, the rest of Otago, mid-30s, maybe even an upper 30°C temperature not out of the question, very excessive ... it'll be quite oppressive," Mr Noll said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand is suffering a fan shortage as Kiwis swelter in record heat and humidity.

Online stores for Bunnings, Briscoes, Mitre 10 Mega and K Mart have all sold out of electric fans.

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