Winter Solstice 2009

Today is the shortest day and the longest night. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the Summer Solstice, when they have the longest day and the shortest night.

In New Zealand, the sun rises around 8am on the shortest day and the sun sets at about 5pm. The exact time depends on where you live. In the far north, the sun rises a little bit earlier and sets a little bit later than in the far south.

Although this is the shortest day, it is not the middle of winter. July usually brings the coldest weather: more cold wind, more rain and hail, and more snow in some places. Skiers are excited because already the mountains have had more snow than usual. Early winter has been very cold this year.

Maori celebrate Matariki, the Aotearoa Pacific New Year, at this time of year. Matariki is a group of stars which you can see in the morning just before the sun rises from late May until late June. Many places in New Zealand will have Matariki celebrations this month.

See June 22nd 2008 for last year’s item.