New Zealand weather – the art of layering

Dear international students,
Did you see one too many pictures of New Zealand looking like a tropical island before you arrived in Christchurch? Our recent weather may have caught you and your summer wardrobe by surprise.
We do actually have beautiful weather in Christchurch – this summer has been considered very HOT by locals with temperatures often in the high 20 degrees Celsius or early 30s. The fact is, we are in Te Waipounamu South Island, and not too far from the Southern Alps in one direction (yay – skiing and mountain biking), and even closer to the Pacific Ocean on the other side (yay – swimming and surfing). Our weather is quite different from the North Island, parts of which, to those who grew up in the South Island, seem almost tropical.
While the recent weather event was unusually severe, there is a reason why New Zealanders talk about four-seasons-in-one-day. Crowded House even sang about it. Watch the video, which is described as ‘using distinctly Kiwi imagery’ on NZ ON SCREEN>
Try asking a New Zealander: “Shall I take or wear my sweater today?” Chances are they may say “You need to layer.” They might also say, “we call sweaters ‘jerseys’ mate”. Jerseys are usually knitted wool – and the best ones have been knitted by Mum. Sweatshirt is more likely to be a commonly understood term.
Layering in New Zealand is probably considered almost a part of Kiwi culture and it’s a bit of an art. If you take a look at and click on a town you can see it often suggest how many layers to wear. Useful! The idea is you wear and carry layers so whatever the ‘seasons’ on a given day, you are prepared.
So try this in Christchurch –
In summer:
·   Always carry a sweatshirt. Hoodie sweatshirts are great. If an easterly wind comes in from the ocean you’ve got your torso and head covered. If a north westerly wind comes across the Canterbury Plains bringing the heat, peel off the sweatshirt to your T-shirt.
·  Keep a small cheap umbrella in your bag.
·  There’s another layer – a wide-brimmed hat or sunscreen. Sunburn happens fast in New Zealand and the skin cancer risk is real. Kiwi’s know all about Slip (on a shirt), Slop (on some sunscreen) Slap (on a hat)>

In spring and summer:
·  Consider carrying a heavier layer than the sweatshirt.
· Everything else above still applies, including the sunscreen.

In winter:
· Many southern Kiwis are used to their Mums asking when they were kids – and even now they’re an adult – “are you wearing a singlet?”  in that “I am your Mother!” tone  before they leave the house. Cotton, polyester, merino – whatever your choice, Kiwi Mums are right. Add some singlets to your wardrobe. Singlet on first then add another two layers on the top half of your body. Carry a hat or use that hoodie.  
·  Go to a second-hand store and find a jersey that someone’s Mum knitted. Wear it with pride. Unless you want it to turn into a jersey for your six year old brother, hand wash, or delicate wash in the machine.
·   Have you ever worn a puffer jacket? Bliss.
·   Woolen hat, pompoms add style. Gloves. Scarves. Thick socks. Do not skimp on these options.

 And when your friends and family come and visit from overseas and ask you what to bring to wear – you’ve got this: “Layer, layer, layer.” Welcome to Christchurch!

Kind regards,
A Christchurch local (who has also lived even further south and is therefore quite good at knitting. Check out the newspaper extract below from the Press, May 1935 and read it in full here>)

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