Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for New Zealand's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of New Zealand's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

New Zealand is a long, narrow and mountainous country. It consists of two large islands, the North Island and the South Island, and a number of smaller islands. The two main islands are located in the southwest Pacific Ocean between 33° and 47° south latitude. New Zealand has a combined land area of around 27 million hectares and 17,200 kilometers of coastline. New Zealand straddles the boundary of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. The resulting earth movements have produced hilly and mountainous terrain over two-thirds of the land. There are frequent earthquakes in most parts of the country. New Zealand also has a zone of volcanic and geothermal activity in the central North Island. Grassland for agriculture, natural forest and plantation forestry form New Zealand’s main land cover (55% of total land use). New Zealand’s population is estimated as 5.1 million (2020) and its population density is relatively low. The economy is based on the provision of services (the manufacturing and primary sectors). The primary sector (agricultural, horticultural, forestry, mining and fishing industries) plays a fundamental role in the export sector and in employment. A low population density (and related long-distance infrastructure), a long coastline, varied landscape and an economy reliant on the primary production sector make New Zealand vulnerable to risks associated with extreme weather, sea-level rise and shifts in climatic conditions.