Winter activities

Ice skating on Mannerburn dam, click to enlarge Ice skating

Climbing on skis high above Alex fog, click to enlarge Ski above the fog

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June snowfall

Actually winter in Central Otago isn't that bad. Although our temperature may be low it's pretty tolerable because of our dry climate. The low humidity means the body doesn't cool as fast as it would in a warmer and more humid climate. There are benefits too: Like skiing, ice skating, and..well, looking forward to summer!

The worse weather is not the snow but the freezing fog or "hoar frost". This happens just once or twice each winter and it usually follows a cold snap when an anticyclone moves over the lower South Island. When this happens the air is very stable with nil wind. The Alexandra basin will be smothered in ground-level cloud that freezes on contact with trees, fences, and power lines. The fog layer is just a hundred or so feet thick, and above it will be bright blue sky. It's usually possible to drive or walk up a nearby hill to see the sun. If there's any skiing to be had then that's a good time to do it.
Click to view hi-res picture
Skiing the Railtrail near Wedderburn

May and June are often the worse months of winter. It is dark early and there's usually no snow or ice for recreation. Some locals head away for their annual holiday...usually to somewhere warmer!
The shortest day is around June 21st. Sunrise will be about 8:40am and sunset 4:40pm. By now we could have had a low snowfall, perhaps even settling on the ground for a few days. The snow seldom stays around long in Alexandra but can last for a couple of months in the higher valley floor of the Manuherikia. Our temperatures are usually in single digits on the colder days. During this time most days get above freezing after a very good frost. If the sun is shining it is quite bearable. July is always cold. By August the days are getting longer, and September is definately the start of Spring!
Alexandra is surrounded by mountains which remain snow-capped from June til at least October.

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