If you’re planning to make a move to Wellington, it might be helpful to know a bit about the weather. First off, don’t waste space in your suitcase with an umbrella or ‘wind proof’ layers because they won’t stand a chance against the Wellington wind! Instead prioritise warm, waterproof layers for the winter and load up on sunscreen for the summer.
Wellington experiences a very temperate climate with highs in the mid-twenties and lows that hardly ever drop to zero (Celsius). For my American friends, this is similar to the coastal region of the Pacific Northwest. The temperature reaches the upper 70’s (which feels like the 80’s due to the intensity of the UV rays) and is barely ever freezing – at least in the city. A typical winter will only have you scraping ice off of the windows a couple of times during the year. So if you’re like this Portland girl and don’t mind mild weather, then Wellington is not a bad place to be. December to February marks peak summer that is absolutely stunning with a higher consistency of sunny, warm days. June to August bring frequent southerly winds from the Antarctic providing a spattering of winter chill. The word ‘consistent’ may not be the best word though because Wellington weather is not really consistent. For example, spring is a combination of these conditions all in one day for much of September and October. The variability of the weather is largely due to the Wellington wind.
‘Windy Wellington’ is typically the first phrase that comes to mind when people think of Wellington weather and for good reason! Locals are astonishing for their disregard of the 100 kph wind that blows them off balance during their daily commute.
Wellington city sits just inland from the Cook Straight making it a hot spot for systems passing through from the tropical north and the Antarctic south. The wind is experienced year-round with some days windier than others. On rare occasions there is absolutely no wind and you begin to question if you’re still in Wellington. You can often experience a shift between the two systems in a single day, particularly during spring as mentioned before. This gives the feeling of multiples seasons within 24 hours. It took me a month or so to really work out how to properly dress for the day as it is really hard to predict how the weather will change later on. I feel sorry for the Wellington meteorologists who make a career out of this! The solution, I’ve found, is to give up entirely on guessing and just become an expert at layering! It does makes for a lot of laundry but at least you get the best use of all of your outfits regardless of season.
The quick shift in weather, however, can also play to an advantage. Back home, the Pacific Northwest is notorious for its cloud cover during the majority of the year. Here, however, I quite enjoy the weather systems blowing through as you get to experience numerous sunny days scattered throughout the winter. It is only unfortunate when the wind mixes with the rain rendering umbrellas useless and one side of your body sopping wet.
Can’t beat Wellington on a Good Day
Apart from the wind, the next most frequently used saying is that, ‘You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.’ The city comes to life when the sun is out and the wind is down. On these days it’s as if half of the city’s population has been hibernating and decide to venture outside to enjoy everything Wellington has on offer. The waterfront is teeming with happy people enjoying a leisurely stroll either to the market, a morning coffee, afternoon beer or all of the above. The outskirts of the city are also taken advantage of from stunning coastlines to the scenic bush walks. There are always events going on in the summer too such as local suburb festivals and free concerts in the Botanic Gardens! These sunny days make the windy, rainy days well worth it.
Wellington Weather in Context
If you don’t like extreme temperatures, then Wellington is a nice place to be. The mild weather has certainly helped me save money when it comes to gym memberships. I’ve found it is possible to run outdoors year-round (if you choose your tracks wisely) and mix it up with koha yoga in town. If you’re doing a PhD you can also use the weather to your advantage. Stay productive and writing on the rainy days and treat yourself when the sun comes out!