3 Feb 2016

Hot, dry start to year - NIWA

2:02 pm on 3 February 2016

It's been a hot start to 2016 for most of the country, with above average temperatures in most parts of the North Island, and north and west of the South Island, according to Niwa's climate summary for January.

Beach-goers enjoy the sunshine at Eastbourne in Wellington.

Temperatures were above average for most of the country in January Photo: RNZ

The highest temperature for the month was 34.4°C, at Gisborne and the lowest was -1.2°C, at Manapouri.

New Plymouth took out the top spot for the sunniest spot in New Zealand for January.

Rainfall was well above normal or above normal in most parts of the north and east of both Islands, but below normal in isolated parts of Taranaki and Queenstown-Lakes.

Near normal rainfall was observed elsewhere.

As of 1 February, soil moisture levels were above normal for the time of year for eastern Northland, Coromandel, northern Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, northern Tasman, Nelson and coastal Canterbury.

There were drier than usual soils in the remainder of the North Island, southern Tasman, Otago, and Southland.

Last year's global average temperature was the hottest ever by the widest margin on record, according to US scientists.