A warm 2018 saw last January become New Zealand's hottest month on record, with the year as a whole also rising up to be one of the warmest since recording began.
NIWA's Annual Climate Summary, released today, found the year was the second warmest on record, equal with 1998. Both years trail behind 2016. NIWA began calculating the temperature series in 1909.
The summary found that Central Otago's Alexandra received the highest air temperature last year at a scorching 38.7°C on January 30.
The nation's lowest temperature saw mercury plummet to a bone-chilling -10.4°C , recorded at Mt Cook Airport on June 3.
Wider Nelson took the title of sunniest region, clocking 2555 hours. The Bay of Plenty saw 2518 hours and Marlborough received 2503.
Akitio in the Tararua District recorded the highest wind gust at 187km/h.
The small town of Leigh, north of Auckland, saw the highest annual average temperature for the year at 17°C, followed by Kaitaia and Whangarei.
The report found that of the six main cities, Auckland was warmest, Dunedin coolest and driest, Tauranga was wettest and sunniest and "Wellington was the least sunny".
However, January 2018 took out the title of New Zealand's hottest month, "recording a remarkable 3.1°C above the long-term average".
"Periodic hot spells resulted in numerous locations observing record or near-record extreme maximum temperatures for January," the report states.
Temperatures were "well above" the average throughout the country in January, rising by more than 2°C in most places.
The year ended with rain drenching the North Island and north-eastern South Island, with much of the north experiencing a higher than normal amount of rain.
NIWA reports that four of the past six years have been among the warmest on record for New Zealand.