Cold frosty winters are followed by hot dry summers. Central Otago’s climate is the closest approximation to a continental or Mediterranean climate anywhere in New Zealand. This climate is part of the reason why our orchards and vineyards are so successful in this region. We are one of the driest regions in the country, sheltered from prevailing rain-bearing weather conditions by the high mountains to the west and hills of the south. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Winters, by contrast, are often bitterly cold with minus overnight temperatures most nights during winter and spring, ideal for winter skating, hockey and curling.
The Earnscleugh Valley enjoys a micro-climate that is perfectly suited for growing fruit that needs cold frosty winters to set the fruit buds for the spring and summer. Heavy frosts in the winter and spring require frost-fighting wind turbines and sprinklers to protect the new season blossom and fruit buds.
With a very low annual rainfall, 350mm to 400mm, we are very dependent on irrigation from the local Earnscleugh Irrigation Scheme which draws its water from the Fraser River. Irrigation water is stored in large dams and used for over tree frost fighting in the spring and under tree irrigation in the summer.
With long summer daylight hours and high temperatures, sun screen protection is very important for anyone being outdoors.