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Our climate

The Waikato region tends to have warm, humid summers and mild winters, with prevailing west and southwest winds.

Information on rainfall, prevailing wind direction and speed in the Waikato region.

The Waikato region, centred around 38 degrees south, is exposed to prevailing west and southwest winds from the Tasman Sea. These bring mild, humid conditions. No location is more than 80 km from the sea which means temperatures are quite regulated. Sheltered and elevated inland places experience extremes of hot and cold.

Check out the map to see information on average rainfall, prevailing wind direction and speed.

The north central Waikato region tends to have warm, humid summers and mild winters. The average annual rainfall is 1,250 mm. This is generally enough for agriculture but there is potential for drought during summer.

Three areas with high rainfall are shown in darker blue areas on the map:

  • The Coromandel Peninsula often has annual rainfalls over 3,000 mm and sometimes in excess of 4,500 mm.
  • The Waitomo/Kawhia area is exposed to moist winds from both the south and northwest, bringing rain.
  • The alpine area around the Tongariro National Park experiences high rainfall and very cold temperatures.

Find out about flooding in the Waikato region.

Areas with the least rainfall are shown in pale blue on the map:

  • The lower Waikato lowlands and the Hauraki Plains, sheltered to the east by the Kaimai and Coromandel Ranges and to the south by the central North Island plateau.
  • Taupo sheltered by the Hauhungaroa Range.
  • The Reporoa Valley sheltered by the Paeroa Range.

Although these sheltered inland areas have less rain, they do have many frosts and fog events as do Coromandel and Waihi. Waikato is renowned for the high number of fog days. Fog commonly forms over moist or marshy ground on cloudless nights with light winds. Inland areas also experience air pollution. Find out more how the region’s weather affects air quality. Check out our River Levels and Rainfall topic to get three hourly updates from our monitoring sites around the region.

Normal climate changes are being affected by a gradual thickening in the protective layer of gases around earth's atmosphere. This could see a rise in sea levels and changes in climate patterns. Find out more about the effect of climate change on natural hazards and air quality in the Waikato region.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has information on changes in weather patterns.