The Impact of Weather on Tyres: A Guide for New Zealand Drivers

As Kiwis, we are justifiably proud of the natural beauty throughout our country. From the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the lush greenery of the North Island, our scenery has so much diversity. With such varying landscapes comes a wide range of weather conditions, each presenting unique challenges for drivers. Whether navigating your neighbourhood or planning a tiki tour right around the motu, selecting the right tyres for the conditions is essential for a safe and enjoyable journey.


Regional Differences

Certain tyres are better suited to certain road conditions, and weather plays a big part in the conditions you are likely to encounter in different areas.

One of the first things to consider when choosing tyres in New Zealand is the differing weather patterns that you are likely to find between our two islands. The South Island, with its mountainous terrain and colder temperatures, historically experiences more extreme weather compared to the milder climate of the North Island. These variations can have a significant impact on tyre performance.

In the South Island, particularly in regions like Canterbury and Otago, where winter temperatures can plummet below freezing, winter tyres are extremely important. Winter tyres are designed to maintain traction and grip in cold, snowy conditions, providing drivers with the confidence to tackle icy roads and steep mountain passes as safely as possible. These tyres often feature a special mix of natural rubber, high strength polymers and wear-resistant materials to enhance the traction in winter driving conditions.

For those living in areas prone to heavy snowfall, investing in a set of winter tyres is a wise decision to ensure optimal performance and safety during the colder months.

Meanwhile, the North Island, with its more temperate climate, is unlikely to see the same level of snow and ice as down south. Here, all-season tyres offer a versatile solution for drivers facing a mix of weather conditions throughout the year. From the mild winters of Auckland to the occasional frost in Wellington, all-season tyres provide good handling, stability, and traction in a variety of conditions and a range of temperatures, making them a good choice for North Islanders.


Wet Weather Considerations

No matter which island you call home, wet weather is a common occurrence across New Zealand. The distribution of rainfall is significantly affected by mountains, a factor in Milford Sound area receiving an average 6000 millimetres of rain annually. With its high rainfall and rugged coastline, the South Island's south-west coast region presents unique challenges for drivers, particularly in terms of tyre grip and handling.

When selecting tyres for wet weather conditions, look for tread patterns specifically designed to channel water away from the contact patch, reducing the risk of hydroplaning. Additionally, opt for tyres with a high-quality compound that maintains flexibility in wet conditions, ensuring optimal traction on rain-soaked roads. By making wet weather performance a priority, drivers can navigate unpredictable weather with more confidence and peace of mind.


Heat and UV Exposure

New Zealand experiences high levels of UV radiation, particularly during the summer and much of autumn and spring.  UV levels are highest around Auckland and the north of the country. This prolonged exposure to sunlight can accelerate tyre wear and deterioration, compromising performance and safety on the road.

To combat the effects of heat and UV exposure, consider investing in tyres with enhanced durability and UV-resistant compounds. These tyres are specifically designed to withstand the sometimes harsh impact of the sun, offering extended tread life and consistent performance. By choosing tyres designed to handle the challenges of a sunnier climate, Auckland and Northland drivers can drive easier knowing their tyres are built to last.


Terrain-Specific Recommendations

As well as weather, the diverse terrain found throughout New Zealand needs to be factored in when choosing your tyres. From gravel roads in rural areas to alpine passes in the Southern Alps, each region presents its own challenges for drivers and their tyres.

For those navigating gravel roads or off-road trails, consider tyres with reinforced sidewalls and aggressive tread patterns for enhanced traction and durability. These tyres are designed to withstand the rigours of rough terrain, providing drivers with confidence and control when venturing off the bitumen.


Safety Tips

Driving safely is always top of mind, especially when adding in variable weather conditions. Before hitting the road, take the time to check your tyres for signs of wear and damage, including tread depth and inflation pressure. Also, be aware of any specific regulations or recommendations for tyre usage (for example snowy or icy conditions) in the region you plan to explore, to comply with local laws and guidelines.


Whether you're travelling among the snow-covered peaks of the South Island or cruising along the coastal highways, soaking up the sun of the North Island, selecting tyres suited to regional climate and terrain will make for a safer and more enjoyable ride. 

Knowing more about local weather patterns, wet weather performance, heat and UV exposure and terrain-specific requirements can help you make informed decisions about tyre selection. Whether you need winter tyres to tackle icy roads or want all-season tyres for year-round versatility, at Tyre Dispatch, we offer an extensive range of tyres. Our experts understand local conditions and can point you towards tyres to suit every region and every season. Stop by our website to explore our range and find the perfect tyres for your next road adventure.