A aerial view of New ZealandThe winter season in New Zealand usually occurs for 92 days between June 1 and Aug. 31, yet the season has become around 30 days shorter compared to a century ago, according to research.

Brett Mullan, principal climate scientist of The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa), based his findings from past temperature records dating back to 1909.

Shorter Winter

Winter today may have become shorter, but the need for gas central heating at homes during the colder months remains relevant. Mullan’s research found that winter temperatures in South Island and some areas in the North Island can drop to as low as -7°C overnight. The average daily temperature during winter usually reaches below 9°C.

The study used data between 1909 and 1938, and from 1987 to 2016. It covered seven geographically representative regions nationwide. It showed that winter lasted for only 70 days between 1987 and 2016, while winter in the earlier time range occurred for 100 days. In 2016, the winter season predominantly happened between July and August.

Climate Change

Mullan believes that climate change not just in New Zealand, but also worldwide has caused the late start and early end of winter. A short winter has its pros and cons. An advantage involves more options for planting crops, which was not possible before due to low temperatures.

On the other hand, more pests and crop diseases threaten plants since temperatures have become higher than previous years. Mullan said that the winter period would continue to become shorter in the future.


A shorter winter may be good news for Kiwis that dislike the colder months, yet the study may indicate that global warming has already affected the environment. Do you think a shorter winter in New Zealand has a detrimental effect in the long term?