The Hewitt family, from left, Nicola, Zahra, Ryan, Luca and Kade were all making the most of the amazing weather following Monday's announcement that the Nelson region has New Zealand's highest sunshine hours. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Nelson is NZ’s sunniest

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We have topped the table for the most sunshine hours in 2017 and locals know all too well.

The wider area, including Richimond, ended the year with 2633 hours of sun, followed by Marlborough with 2605 hours, according to latest Niwa data.

The regional sunshine ranking reflects the highest sunshine hours in local authorities, except for Nelson which was extended to include the wider Nelson urban area, including Richmond.

Locals are telling the same story, proud to retain the title and saying it’s most sunshine they’ve seen in years.

“It’s definitely hotter,” says Toi Toi resident Kim Robertson. “December was amazingly hot, I can’t remember another December like it, we’re finally having a proper summer and I’m loving it.”

Stoke mum Tanya Swann says that while the brown grass everywhere is not good for the farmers, its been perfect for holidaymakers and kids over the school holidays.”

Atawhai local Melanie Carruthers says she is not at all surprised.

“It’s been absolutely great and I’ve definitely been enjoying it, I’ve been swimming off Rocks Rd as much as possible, it must be the most I’ve ever swum in summer.”

Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne says he is thrilled with the results.

“We are delighted to see that the Richmond Racecourse recorder has topped the pops for 2017.”

The title of sunniest place in the has been keenly contested with even Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese crying foul when last year Richmond was crowned the sunshine capital of New Zealand, ahead of its nearest neighbour Nelson by more than 350 hours.

The two will now share the honours.

While Rachel was unavailable for comment, Councillor Ian Barker spoke on her behalf saying it was great to see the region return to its rightful place as the sunshine capital.

“I applaud the work done by Mayor Rachel Reese to ensure fairness in the way the sunshine data is collected. Nelson City Council thanks NIWA for taking on board the Mayor’s pleas for a uniform and accurate sunshine hours recording system in all locations.”

Richard says it makes perfect sense to share the title with Nelson due to its close proximity and also acknowledges that Marlborough was close with its sunshine hours.

“This demonstrates that the Top of the South Island, Tasman, Nelson and Marlborough, are wonderful places to live, work and play.”

The warmest places were in the far north. Leigh, north of Auckland, had the warmest average temperature of 17C, followed by Whangarei and Kaitaia.

For most of the country, 2017 was warmer and wetter than usual, the report says. All six major cities had clocked up their usual annual rainfall before the end of September and had been on track for record wet years.

The highest temperature was recorded at Wairoa and Ashburton on February 6 with 35.5C.