This page has information about local weather and other weather resources.

Local weather

Canterbury is on average cooler than the rest of New Zealand with below zero temperatures common in winter and occasional snow falls.

In spring and summer airflow over the Southern Alps causes a strong, hot, and dry wind known as "the nor'wester" usually along with lenticular clouds known as the "nor'west arch".

Flooding is not uncommon after heavy rainfall as the Canterbury Plains is home to a number of braided rivers, and the Ōtakaro Avon and Ōpawaho Heathcote rivers run through Christchurch city.

Christchurch records over 2000 hours of sunshine a year.

Local weather forecasts for Christchurch city and the Canterbury plains.

View of Mount Pleasant by Greg Dowson CCL-GrDo-P1380586 CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Useful weather links

View of the North-west Arch from Lake Hood by Jane R. CCL-DW-132531 CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

In the library catalogue

More weather in the catalogue

Extreme weather

Droughts, cyclones, floods, storms and tornadoes in the library catalogue

Cyclones, Hurricanes, Typhoons, and Tornadoes

What is the difference between these different kinds of weather?

A "cyclone" is a system of winds that rotate around a central area of low pressure. Cyclones that start in the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, or eastern North Pacific are called "hurricanes". When they develop over the South Pacific or Indian Ocean the are called "cyclones", and when they form in the North West Pacific they are called "typhoons".

A "tornado" is a twisting column of air that forms from a storm. They also sometimes called "twisters" or "whirlwinds". Tornadoes can have diameters in the hundreds of metres but cyclones are more likely to take up hundreds of kilometres.

Cyclones of all kinds and tornadoes all rotate in a clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere (or anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere).

Disasters caused by weather

Mount Erebus air disaster

On 28 November 1979, Air NZ Flight TE901 crashed into the slopes of Mt Erebus - the worst civilian disaster in New Zealand’s history.

Remembering the Wahine Disaster

We reflect on the Wahine disaster and the loss of fifty one people on the 10th of April 1968

New Zealand Disasters

Information on notable New Zealand disasters including natural disasters, transport disasters, mining disasters and epidemics.


Explore a selection of photographs that depict the ways in which people have tried to make the best of floods in Canterbury.

Related pages

Weather stars

Weather stars


"I am the star Puanga. I am the older sibling of Takurua and Matariki."


"I am the star Waipunarangi and I link the Matariki star cluster to the coming of rain."

New Zealand earth science and geology

Earth science and geology

Find resources and information on earth science and geology, including earthquakes, and volcanoes.
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