The  table and graphs below show average monthly figures for a range of climatic factors over the 30-year period 1981–2010.[1]

These figures are measured at the weather station at Rotorua Airport.


Some key points arising from this table:

  • Sunshine hours are at their maximum in January, at 243 hours, and typically reach their lowest in June, with 119 hours.
  • Temperature: the annual average temperature ranges from 8–18°C with the average maximum temperature being 23°C and the average minimum being 4°C.
  • Growing degree days (above a 10 degree baseline) vary during individual years from under 1000 hours up to about 1400 hours, with an average across the 30-year time period of 1214 hours.
  • Humidity ranges from 79 percent in summer up to 88 percent in June, with an annual average of 83 percent.
  • Rainfall is measured at Rotorua Airport but varies significantly across the catchment from 1342 mm at Rotorua Airport to around 2400 mm on the Mamaku plateau.
  • Frost: Rotorua (airport) has about 46 ground frosts and 20 air frosts per year on average. Importantly, there is also a risk of early-season ground frosts in October, November and December, and late-season ground frosts in March and April, which can adversely affect many crops.
  • Winter chill hours: Rotorua receives an annual average of 870 hours of winter chilling below 7°C.

The following graphs show temperature and rainfall figures in the Lake Rotorua catchment.



Rotorua compared to other growing areas

To provide context of how Rotorua compares with other growing areas in New Zealand, below is a table comparing select climate variables in these areas averaged over the years 1981–2010: [2]

Location Rainfall (mm) Sunshine (hours) Mean temperature (⁰C) Growing Degree Days (10⁰C)

Humidity %

(Min – Max)

Hamilton 1108 2020 14 1500 79 – 91
Tauranga 1181 2346 15 1856 73 – 85
Rotorua 1342 2128 13 1230 77 – 87
Napier 785 2259 15 1575 67 – 79
Nelson 960 2472 13 1264 73 – 90
Christchurch 618 2142 12 1055 78 – 92
Alexandra 359 2006 11 1122 68 – 89


Rotorua’s rainfall of 1342 mm is the highest of the locations listed, but this does not represent the entire catchment well as the Rotorua Airport location receives the lowest rainfall in the Lake Rotorua catchment. Rainfall levels increase moving westward to the Mamaku plateau, which can receive up to 2400 mm per year.

While sunshine hours at 2128 hours annually is in the mid-range of the other regions reported, the lower mean temperature of 13°C results in lower growing degree days, essentially a shorter growing season. This shorter growing season coupled with higher rainfall and hence humidity creates a limiting environment for many horticultural crops.


Although the prevailing windflow over northern New Zealand is west to southwest, winds over the Bay of Plenty region are modified by the local topography.

Wind roses (showing mean annual frequency of surface wind speed and direction based on hourly observations) for four sites in Bay of Plenty are shown below [3]. Winds from the west and southwest prevail at Mt Te Aroha (elevation 951 m) and at Tauranga, while at Whakatane, north-westerly and south-westerly winds are the most frequent.

At Rotorua, the prevailing wind is north-easterly, but winds from between south and west are also common.

Wind speed

The average daily wind speed in Rotorua varies little throughout the year, averaging around 12 km/hr with a slight increase during spring to 13–15 km/hr [4].




























[1, 2, 4] Cliflo Database, NIWA

[3] The Climate and Weather of the Bay of Plenty, 3rd ed. NIWA 2013