The following are weather links that I personally use for New Zealand and in particular South Island. There are a confusing array of weather sites online and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted with what you think the forecasts are saying. I have structured the following weather links in order of relevance at different stages during the weather forecasting process. My approach is similar to the following recommended podcast from the UK.
Observations on the day trump the forecasts so it’s best to keep an open mind and observe what the skies are telling you. Ultimately as you progress with weather forecasting, the mental links will improve between what you observe and what was forecast. I have also created a cut down mobile friendly version of this page for when you are out and about.
**Please use the following page at your own risk! Weather forecasts are not always accurate and you need to use your own judgment on the hill and in the air.**
Long range planning +3 Days
At this point, I am simply trying to decide if there are any flyable weather windows without getting into too much detail. Please note long range planning beyond 3 days is a bit like tea leaf reading and is not always reliable here in NZ.
Metvuw– This Victoria University site contains high res satellite pix and prognostic charts up to 72 hours out, showing surface and upper winds and rainfall.
WindyTV– Great for visualising wind flows. It contains GFS and EC predictions for up to 10 days out.
Metservice 5 day rain forecast
PredictWind– Isobar maps within PredictWind have 3 different models (EC, GFS and Canadian Models) and is useful to see how aligned the weather forecasts are. The models have been tuned for NZ conditions and if the models are aligned I trust the forecasts more.
Mid-range planning up to 3 days
Up to 3 days out, I am starting to look in more detail about what the quality of the day is going to be like. I start with the Metservice mountain forecasts at 1000m and 2000m to build a picture with which to reference against other forecasts like RASP and XC Skies. I am looking to see if there is any difference between the forecasts and hence if I can trust what forecasts are saying. Often the Metservice descriptions will overestimate the wind strength, as they are forecasting over a large area and tend to err on the side of public safety.
– Great for visualising wind flows. It contains GFS and EC predictions for up to 10 days out.
RASP– Rasp is one of my favourite weather sites for determining the quality of the day and where to launch. If you are interested in how to interpret RASP the following are highly recommended explanations
on how to read temperature traces;
XC Skies– a paid site that contains more detail than RASP and is useful for spotting local wind patterns and convergences. It uses the same basic weather model (GFS-American data) as RASP but is presented in a different way. I only use this after looking at other forecasts.
On the Day observations
At this point, I am trying to decide if the observations match with what is forecasted. Often the weather forecasts are accurate but may vary in the timing, either later or earlier than expected.
Howwindy.com – This site has been created by a paraglider pilot and has an ever growing list of weather stations commonly used. Links to the actual station and also weather forecasts are contained on this mobile-friendly site. This site is all most people will need to start with.
W-Underground– The Weather Underground application for smartphones has the best collection of webcams and general weather observations across NZ. Real-time satellite images within this application are useful to see the progress of fronts and cloud (set opacity to 35% for best viewing).
Coronet Peak Express
– Located near the top of Coronet. It’s slightly in the lee so can misread wind direction and speed. Good to spot when lee side conditions may be changing at Coronet Peak.
weather station Located in Queenstown at the top of the gondola
– useful for looking at wind on the lake and what is happening on Coronet Peak (select Coronet Peak option)
Wanaka Webcam – Webcam looking from Wanaka back towards Treble Cone. Useful before committing to the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka.
Kea Chalet – useful for seeing what is happening in the high mountains north of Wanaka.
Snow Farm– Weather station located at the Snow Farm base building. Only operates during winter.
Omarama and North
Omarama Weather Station
– Located in Omarama at the gliding centre. It’s useful for knowing how strong the sea breeze is if you are flying north
PredictWind –If you are looking at flying coastal sites anywhere in NZ, PredictWind is hands down the best website site and application available anywhere. I have used this extensively around the world kitesurfing and found it very good. PredictWind have partnered with Metservice and are able to access all the Metservice weather stations around the coast. For this reason alone, it’s worth the $20 subscription.