Meteorological Service Contract

Maurice Williamson Transport

The Minister of Transport, under the Meteorological Services Act 1990 (as amended in 1992), is responsible for ensuring the provision of meteorological warnings and forecasts for New Zealand and the collection of data to support these services. The Minister is also required to appoint an organisation to provide the authorised warning service in New Zealand.

In 1992 the Minister of Transport and the Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService) entered into a commercial contract for the provision of meteorological services. The contract provides for core weather services for New Zealand, and for the Government to meet its international obligations under World Meteorological Organization (WMO) arrangements.

The contract has a number of years to run and has been recently reviewed to ensure that it clearly specifies the services to be provided.

The following document is an outline of those services that will continue to be provided under the contract.

Warnings and Forecasts

Warnings of Hazardous Weather Affecting Land Areas

As required, warnings are issued for:

  • Widespread heavy rain, exceeding 50 mm in 6 hours or 100 mm in 24 hours
  • Widespread heavy snowfalls below 1000 metres on the North Island and 500 metres on the South Island, exceeding a depth of 10 cm in 6 hours or 25 cm in 24 hours
  • Widespread severe gales with a sustained wind speed of 90 km/hr or more, or frequent gusts of 110 km/hr or more
  • Heavy coastal swells, according to agreed criteria for certain regional authorities

Basic Public Forecasts

  • Four short forecasts are issued daily, covering the next two days, for all of New Zealand
  • Two extended short forecasts are issued daily, covering the following three days
  • Two brief forecasts are issued daily for the mountain areas of New Zealand

Marine Forecasts and Warnings

  • Warnings of gales, storms and hurricanes are issued as required for the Tasman Sea and a large part of the South Pacific Ocean, extending halfway to South America, and from latitude 25ºS to 55ºS (roughly 6% of the world's oceans)
  • Twice daily, synopses and forecasts are issued for the same area
  • Four times daily, detailed marine warnings and forecasts are issued for the coastal waters of New Zealand (up to 100 km from the coast) and the Chatham Islands (the precise areas covered for these coastal services are as specified in the New Zealand Nautical Almanac)
  • Warnings of near gales (25 to 33 knots) are issued as required for the Auckland marine area - Manukau and Waitemata harbours and the Hauraki Gulf south of a line from Cape Colville to Bream Head.
  • Four times daily, marine forecasts are issued for the Auckland marine area, Wellington Harbour and south coast, for inshore waters from Waitarere to Pukerua Bay, and for Pegasus Bay from the mouth of the Waimakariri River to Lyttelton Harbour
  • MetService operates a radio-facsimile service broadcasting marine weather charts over the Pacific Ocean south of the equator


From time to time, emergencies may arise where specific users require urgent meteorological advice. The contract ensures that such advice will be available when needed. Such emergencies may include the need for weather information for national and international search and rescue operations, a fruit fly or a foot and mouth disease outbreak, volcanic eruptions and marine pollution incidents.

Meteorological Data Acquisition

Data Network

A data network is maintained which complies with recognised international standards as prescribed by the WMO. In particular, data are collected through

Data Distribution and Availability

Support Services to the Pacific

World Meteorological Organization

Quality Assurance and Performance Standards

MetService must maintain certification under the ISO 9001 quality management system for the performance of services. In particular, MetService must: