It’s winter. So, if we were sitting knee to knee at the little coffee shop on King Street, sipping a cuppa warmth and perhaps nibbling on something, like say a piece of ginger slice or lollie cake, we would probably talk about the weather for a while. Husband, who is a businessman, says that no matter who you phone, up or down the North or South Island, the first thing you’ll talk about is whether the sun is shining. I often find myself chatting to shop assistants (they can be chatty), mums at the school gate or the bloke with the big beard at the fuel station about the weather. In fact, in New Zealand, the weather can be a good way to idly start a conversation with just about anybody, as most Kiwis do the weather waffle rather well. So, I thought that we could gently ease our way into acquaintance by discussing, well, the weather.
I must say that I find the predictably unpredictable nature of NZ weather fascinating. The weather is a constant reminder that we do live on a relatively little island surrounded by quite a bit of ocean. From the generally gentle Pacific on the east coast to the often wildly moody Tasman on the west coast, the weather, quite obviously, impacts all who live in between. The prevailing wind where we are is the south-wester. It can be fierce and often frigid in winter. I have heard this sort of wind described as a ‘lazy wind’ – it doesn’t bother blowing around you, it blows right through you. Not good beach going weather, unless you are after an invigorating walk to blow the proverbial cobwebs out, in which case, rug up! That being said though, when the south-wester is doing its thing, sometimes, our experience has been anyway, the east coast beaches, if sheltered, are not too bad. When the wind swings to an easterly though, those beaches become a little less inviting. Now I am talking only from my own very limited experiences – speaking for the general Auckland district. As I have yet to travel to the South Island, I cannot speak for them, so if that’s where you are headed, chat to a local or check the weather service and keep an eye so you’ll have a rough idea as to what to expect.
When the sun shines in Auckland, she is breath-taking. Like an already beautiful lady, taking a little extra care with her appearance, she definitely dazzles. In winter, when a high-pressure cell moves in and the sun makes its appearance for a few days on end, everyone and their dog is out and about. It’s like we are collectively appreciative. The weather, wind, rain or shine, or all of the above in a matter of minutes, certainly doesn’t stop anyone from getting on with it workwise.
Don’t think it rains all the time. Not where we are anyway. We get our fair share of rain in winter, but not in that uniform grey, set-in stuff like they get in the UK. In summer, we can go for weeks without rain. And the rain, when it comes, can offer a reprieve. If memory serves, last summer we even had level one water restrictions in place in our area. We were not allowed to water our gardens with a sprinkler during the heat of the day. Rainfall, and the weather in general, varies quite radically throughout the regions, so check out the difference between say, Fiordland / Southland, Canterbury, Bay of Plenty / Hawkes Bay, Auckland and Northland regions (or wherever you are headed).
I remember my husband saying, not too long after we arrived (which was slap bang in the middle of winter), that New Zealand comes alive in summer – it’s like everyone just puts up with winter to enjoy the summer. Now that I have had the pleasure of enjoying one nice hot Kiwi summer (the first two were warm, not hot), I can see why. New Zealand, in the summertime, is especially spectacular. Miles of beaches to choose from, many of which are great for swimming, fishing, surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and kayaking – or just putting up a brollie, building castles and eating ice-cream. All in very reasonable driving distance from home.
Of course, summer also comes with the added bonus of drying your laundry on the clothesline outside and not in the garage, or the dryer, or the living room with the dehumidifiers sucking and blasting away.
So, I guess, depending on where you come from in South Africa and the levels of humidity you are comfortable with, you may need to adapt a little and embrace the changeability of NZ weather.
I have waffled enough. There is plenty more to say about it, the weather that is. Rest assured, this will probably leak out, here and there, in the pages to come.