|Central Otago’s climate is the closest we have in New Zealand to a continental climate. It is a land of extremes being the coldest and driest part of New Zealand. The seasons are sharply defined: summers are typified by long days (daylight lasts until 10pm) that are hot and low in humidity; autumn sees cooler evenings with hot and still days shortening as we head into winter; winter mornings are often misty, the days cloudless and windless and the nights freezing; while spring sees a return to warmer weather with typical equinox winds.
Alexandra, for example, has the lowest average annual rainfall (340mm) recorded anywhere in New Zealand, is the least windy and has 148 frosts annually (only Lake Tekapo, with 149, has more). Ophir, 27km away, holds the record for the lowest air temperature recorded - minus 21.6 deg C in mid1995 - but it also held the highest reading (35.2 deg C in 1959) until 42.4 deg C was recorded at Rangiora, in Canterbury in 1973.
Spring warms the soil and fruit tree blossom dominates the district’s orchard areas. Temperatures range from minus 3 to 20 deg C, with 10 frosts a month. Average rainfall is 28mm a month and sunshine 206 hours per month.
In summer the landscape and waterways shimmer under the summer sun. Temperatures range from 10 to 30 deg C plus on several days. The monthly averages are rainfall of 38mm and 227 sunshine hours.
Autumn (fall) is characterised by settled and sunny weather and the brilliance of autumn foliage as the extensive orchards and shelterbelts turn red, yellow and gold. Temperatures range from minus 3 to 24 deg C. Rainfall averages 30mm a month with 11 frosts and 150 hours of sunshine per month.
During winter, hoarfrost in the valleys and snow on the ranges, combined with the clear light are especially spectacular. The temperature range is minus 6 to 15 deg C, with an average monthly rainfall of 15mm, 25 days of frosts and 107 hours of sunshine during the shorter days.
For further climate information go to the Grow Otago website.