Several previous studies have reported declines in pan evaporation rate throughout the Northern Hemisphere of about 2–4 mm a−2 for various periods since the 1950s. A recent analysis of Australian pan evaporation reported a similar decline and raises the possibility that part of the phenomenon may be related to the greenhouse effect. To assess that possibility, one needs to know whether the decline in evaporative demand is happening in other parts of the Southern Hemisphere. As a first step to addressing the latter question, we examined the trend in pan evaporation at 19 New Zealand sites. We found statistically significant declines in pan evaporation rate at 6 of the 19 sites. There were no sites with statistically significant increases in pan evaporation. When averaged across all 19 sites, the decline in pan evaporation rate was roughly 2 mm a−2 (i.e. mm per annum per annum) since the 1970s. Over a 30-year period, this is equivalent to a decline of about 60 mm a−1 in annual pan evaporation. These results are generally consistent with those reported throughout the Northern Hemisphere and in Australia. We conclude that the trend for decreasing evaporative demand previously reported throughout the Northern Hemisphere terrestrial surface may also be widespread in the Southern Hemisphere. This may be, in part, a greenhouse-related phenomenon. Copyright © 2005 Royal Meteorological Society.