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Sunniest Places in New Zealand

Sunniest Places in New Zealand

Sunniest places in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Climate in General

New Zealand is called "sub-tropical" in terms of climate, meaning the average temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius (67 degrees Fahrenheit). But New Zealand is quite a long country from north to south: about 1,600 kilometres (990 miles). That's roughly the distance from Beijing to Taipei, New Delhi to Goa, London to Lisbon, or Philadelphia to Miami. 

Therefore, it's difficult to characterise New Zealand's climate, as it completely depends where in New Zealand you are. But Northern Hemisphere dwellers should always remember that New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning that "north equals warm" and "south equals cold." (And of course, that the seasons are opposite to what you're used to, as well!)

New Zealand's Sunniest Places

Let's look at just the sunniest parts of New Zealand, i.e., places where the sun is least obscured by cloud. Where are they? What kind of temperatures and weather do they get throughout the year? And what are the various features of those places?

(Note, however, that "sunniest" does not necessarily equal "warmest." A lot of factors affect air temperature, and sunshine hours is just one of them. For that reason, don't be surprised that the South Island is home to some of New Zealand's sunniest spots!)

Whakatane, the sunniest place in New Zealand.


Based on the very latest weather statistics, Whakatane in the North Island's Bay of Plenty district, is the sunniest place in New Zealand, averaging a whopping 7.4 hours of sunshine a day in 2020. The town also records higher temperatures than anywhere else in New Zealand.

Whakatane is a small town of just under 17,000 people and is located at the mouth of the river of the same name. 

About 40% of Whakatane's population is of Maori ancestry, reflecting the long history of Maori settlement here.

Forestry and farming are the main industries here, but there is also a large aquaculture sector, particularly for the cultivation of mussels.

However, Whakatane has done its best to capitalise on its sunniness, running a domestic tourist campaign over the past year based on the slogan, "The Sunniest Place in the World" (with the caveat: "that you can travel to at the moment"!)

The crowning jewel of Whakatane's recreational scene is idyllic Ohope Beach, just east of the township. But rainforest treks, fishing charters, flights to volcanic White Island, boat tours to Moutohora/Whale Island, golfing and bike tours are some of the other activities that Whakatane offers the tourist.

Blenheim is one of New Zealand's sunniest places.


Blenheim is near the northern tip of the South Island, and, together with nearby Nelson, is the second sunniest spot in New Zealand with an average of 6.8 sunshine hours per day.

This town of a little under 30,000 people is the hub town for New Zealand's most prosperous wine-producing area, the Marlborough region. Summers are quite warm and dry, with very low humidity, and winters are cool and bracing, as opposed to cold and shiver-inducing. 

Blenheim is on the Wairau Plain, surrounded by mountains to the north, west and south. Those mountains are very important for the town's climate. The southern mountains protect the plain from cold winter winds and snow, and the western mountains from the very wet weather of the west coast of the South Island. 

January is usually the sunniest month in Blenheim, and June and July the least sunny and, predictably, the rainiest.

Blenheim's wonderful weather attracts a lot of retirees and those who live alternative lifestyles.

Nelson is one of New Zealand's sunniest places
Nelson is one of New Zealand's sunniest places


Nelson is a coastal town about 60 km west of Blenheim and is also part of the Marlborough region. Like Blenheim, Nelson gets an average of 6.8 sunshine hours per day. And the pattern of sunshine hours throughout the year is basically the same as for Blenheim.

Nelson has about 50,000 inhabitants and is the biggest fishing port in New Zealand (and even bigger than Australia's biggest). Forestry, farming and market gardening make up the other main industries. Nelson was also a major international tourist destination before the advent of the coronavirus. A major feature of Nelson is its arts and crafts scene, which includes the annual Nelson Arts Festival.

Rabbit Island is a popular beach to soak up the sun only 20 minutes from Nelson.

Lake Tekapo is one of New Zealand's sunniest places
Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a small town in the South Island, about a 3-hour drive mainly west of Christchurch. As the name suggests, the town is on the shore of beautiful Lake Tekapo, which is one of New Zealand's famous lakes. Lake Tekapo is the fourth sunniest spot in New Zealand with an average of 6.6 sunshine hours per day. 

However, Tekapo (as it is often called, so as to distinguish the town from the lake) is by no means a warm part of New Zealand. Lake Tekapo doesn't get much above about 14 degrees Celsius (58 degrees Fahrenheit) or below about 3 degrees Celsius (38 degrees Fahrenheit).

The town of Lake Tekapo has very clear air and, being so rural, little light pollution. This makes it ideal for stargazing, and the town has an observatory for that purpose that visitors can take nighttime tours of. Other tourist attractions are the ski fields about 30 km from Lake Tekapo, and the natural thermal spa, the Tekapo Hot Springs.

Tauranga is one of New Zealand's sunniest places


Tauranga is in the North Island of New Zealand, and gets an average of 6.4 sunshine hours per day. This makes Tauranga the fifth sunniest spot in New Zealand. 

Tauranga is on the North Island's east coast, about 90 km west of New Zealand's sunniest town, Whakatane. It has a population of about 150,000, making it the fifth largest New Zealand's city.

Like Nelson, Tauranga is also a port town, and in fact has one of New Zealand's largest and busiest ports, mainly handling exports from New Zealand to the rest of the world.

The main industry around Tauranga is horticulture, with thousands of hectares of kiwifruit and avocado orchards, in particular.

The ocean off Tauranga is quite warm, with a lot of reefs and small islands, making scuba diving a popular sport, and a big tourist draw. Mount Maunganui Beach, indeed, is one of New Zealand's most popular holiday spots.

Map of New Zealand's sunniest towns

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