22 Nov 2019

Heatwave conditions set to hit New Zealand next week

6:32 pm on 22 November 2019

Sweltering dry temperatures and possible heatwave conditions are being forecast for much of the country in the coming weeks.

Ice cream is a must during the hot weather.

Ice cream is a must during the hot weather. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The heatwave fuelling the devastating bushfires in Australia is drifting over the Tasman this weekend, and it's set to be a scorcher.

Summer's technically still more than a week away, but tell that to Timaru - it got up to 29 degrees Celsius today.

MetService forecaster Andy Best said the balmy temperatures for much of the South Island today were well above the norm.

"On average this time of the year in places like Christchurch and Hokitika and Blenheim and Invercargill - temperatures [would be] between 16C and 19C," he said.

"Whereas today we're looking at temperatures in Blenheim for example of 28C, Ashburton 27C, Dunedin 26C."

Chris Brandolino from NIWA said the periods of high temperatures - in some places up to 12C above their monthly average - were to stick around for weeks.

"What will define the next ... 10 to maybe even 14 days will be unusual warmth - and for many in New Zealand - unusual dryness."

Hamilton, inland Bay of Plenty and Canterbury, and Wairarapa will be the hottest places, with the rest of the country likely to get well-above-average temperatures.

Mr Brandolino said it was very dry in Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, eastern Waikato, Coromandel and Northland and there was very little rain forecast.

He said it was possible parts of the country could reach heatwave levels' - five consecutive days at 5 degrees above average.

Fire and Emergency spokesperson John Rasmussen said the fire threat-level across the country was about average for this time of year, but that could change.

"That next 10-day period of having ... considerably higher temperatures and probably along with that will be lower relative humidity.

"That will certainly spike the fire dangers up across the country."

He said people should be careful lighting fires or using machinery that could cause sparks in areas with scrub and tussock.

Most of the country has already had sweltering temperatures this month - with two top-10 November temperature records - 33 degrees in Cheviot and 34 degrees in the Bay of Plenty - happening in the first days of the month.

Mr Brandolino said hitting records so early in the month was a sign of climate change.

NIWA puts out its detailed summer forecast late next week.