Hawke's Bay is shaping to be the top spot to welcome in the New Year as the sunshine and heat looks set to return, and linger, into 2013.
The MetService long-range forecast is music to the ears of Napier's New Year's Eve Celebration co-ordinator, Peter Mooney.
"That will be spot on," he said of the December 31 forecast, which is for a 26C daytime high and a comfortable 15C overnight high. But more importantly, it is for sunshine.
"It is always something I watch closely at this time ... I go through every new forecast and this one looks pretty good at this stage," Mr Mooney said.
If the weather plays ball, it will be in contrast to celebrations around the Marine Parade Sound Shell last December, that were hit by wet weather.
"We would have had between 12,000 and 14,000, whereas normally we would get about 20,000 along."
Mr Mooney expects about 20,000 at the stage shows and midnight fireworks displays if the forecast tracks true. It was an event which would generally go on, regardless. "The reality is, it is New Year's Eve, it's not as if you can postpone it until the next night," he said. The downside of a blazing day was that pyrotechnics crews and contractors who put up temporary fences had to contend with hot shingle on the beach: "So I think they are going to get under way around 5.30, before the sun does the business. They'll be finished around 9."
The east coast of the North Island is in for the best weather as a broad trough begins to move across the country in the next two days. Western areas such as Taranaki, and lower North Island spots such as Manawatu, and possibly Wellington, look set for a wet welcome to the New Year.
The rain which fell in the Bay on Boxing Day night into yesterday, gave farmers and fruit growers some respite, with 11.2mm recorded across the dry Takapau Plains.
The low pressure system which brought rain and dull skies is moving off to the east, with sun and temperatures in the mid to high 20s set to return from tomorrow.
But hot gusts may also welcome in 2013. Tuesday could see west to northwesterlies reaching severe gale strength in Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa and the Bay, south of Hastings.