21 Dec 2018

Christmas Day weather: What it'll be like in your patch

10:41 am on 21 December 2018

New Zealand is a nation of weather watchers, and even more so on Christmas Day. Plans for Christmas dinner, camping, swimming and so much more hinge on the weather playing the game.

The weather forecast for Christmas is a mixed bag depending on where you'll be celebrating but most will be hoping for some sunshine.

The weather forecast for Christmas is a mixed bag depending on where you'll be celebrating but most will be hoping for some sunshine. Photo: 123rf.com

So, without further ado, here's a brief summary of what to expect: Rain in the north and dry in the south.

NIWA meteorologist Chris Brandolino said of the forecast "as is typically the case [it] depends on where you are listening from."

"As people are opening their gifts ... the weather could be downright stormy, frankly, from say the Waikato over towards Auckland and particularly Northland regions. So we're talking Christmas morning, there could be some very heavy rain."

He expected rain to be heaviest for those regions about 9am.

However, Mr Brandolino said things may change.

"We'll find the Bay of Plenty, the Coromandel [on] Christmas Day, boy it could bucket down much of the first half of the day.

"The other thing we have to worry about is the winds. The winds are going to be especially brisk and especially strong. Winds could gust Christmas morning and even Christmas afternoon in some places close to 100km/h from the north. And we have a king tide on Christmas ... we've got to watch the high tide cycle on Christmas morning, which will be late morning depending where you are on the east coast from say Coromandel ... all the way up to Northland.

"It's the timing of those strong onshore winds - northeasterly - with that high tide that could cause some coastal issues.

Better in the south

"I think Christmas morning looks to be pretty nice Christchurch southbound, though people ... towards Kaikōura, towards Blenheim, I do think you'll find a bit of rain Christmas morning. Probably the heaviest rain in Tasman district. So for those camping or tramping over toward Golden Bay or in that northwestern corner of the South Island, could be some rain Christmas morning.

"Christchurch, looks like you're going to see some showers ... but that will probably come in the afternoon.

"South of Christchurch towards Dunedin you should be pretty much dry. So that lower part of the South Island has the greatest chance for drier weather over ... Christmas Day.

For those who are in for a dousing, at least the storm is expected to be short lived.

"It is a sharp, a relatively short weather system, low pressure, that'll be moving through, I do expect things to improve on Boxing Day but still some lingering showers and thunderstorms for the North Island," Mr Brandolino said.

MetService has issued a similar forecast, predicting a warm and wet day in the north, but dry weather in the south.

MetService meteorologists will be keeping a close eye on weather developments to keep people updated.

"Christmas Day sees a broad rain band moving onto the upper North Island, bringing periods of rain north of about Taupō, with heavier rain, possibly thundery. Strong winds are also forecast to spread from Northland down to Bay of Plenty including Auckland," MetService meteorologist Andy Best said.

"Strong northeast winds are also forecast in these areas on Christmas Day."

Christmas Day remains settled over the South Island, with warm fine weather across most of the island, however rain gradually spreads across the North Island during the day.

Before Christmas

The days before Christmas will be unsettled with many areas forecast to receive showers, MetService said.

It will issue a more comprehensive Christmas and Boxing Day forecast on Sunday 23 December.

MetService forecasts for Christmas Day (these may change)


Rain, with some heavy falls. Strong northeasterlies. High of 24C.


Rain developing, possibly heavy. Northeasterlies becoming strong. High of 24C.


Becoming cloudy. Rain and northeasterlies developing later. Hig of 24C.


Becoming cloudy. Rain and northeasterlies developing. High of 21C.

New Plymouth

Cloud increasing. Easterlies. High of 23C.


Rain developing, chance heavy later. Northeasterlies. High of 23C.


Cloud gradually increasing. Northeasterlies. High of 24C.


High cloud increasing. Northerlies strengthening. High of 23C.


Fine with light winds. High of 22C.


Fine with northeasterlies. High of 23C.


Fine with northeast breezes. High of 23C.


Fine. Northwest winds. High of 23C.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs