Given that her birthday coincides with World Meteorological Day, some might argue that Karen Olsen was destined for a career involving the weather. As One News’ weather reporter, the meteorologist spent 21 years in her dream job. “I'm such a weather nerd that it was perfect for me,” she said in 2015. When she left the post late that year, news anchor Simon Dallow described her as “gracious, humble, warm and an absolute weather professional.”
Olsen’s weather career began long before she became a television regular. While working for MetService in the late 80s, she was one of a four person crew stationed on Raoul Island, halfway between the mainland and Tonga. The first woman assigned to the post, Olsen's job as Meteorological Officer was to report on weather conditions and provide early warning of storms approaching NZ. She made her first TV appearance in this One News story documenting the crew’s unique lifestyle.
Joining TVNZ in 1994, Olsen began presenting the weather alongside Jim Hickey. She became a key part of the weather team, regularly presenting the primetime weather in the studio, and occasionally out on location — including from Antarctica in 2010, in a rare live broadcast from the continent. In 2015 Olsen recalled that her Antarctic assignment "was an absolute highlight and something I will carry with me for life.”
In 2015, Olsen presented an episode of the TV One series Descent From Disaster. The series, which had a different presenter for each of its 13 episodes, focused on disasters occurring in New Zealand, from natural to man-made. Olsen’s episode focused on Cyclone Giselle, New Zealand’s worst storm in recorded history, and those who lost their lives as a result including a Kaitaia farmer, a young girl in Wellington, and the casualties of the Wahine disaster.
That same year Olsen decided to leave TVNZ. Her final weather bulletin was on 16 November 2015, followed by a video of her career highlights. After the show her former colleague Jim Hickey, who had retired the previous year, farewelled her in a speech in their TVNZ office, which was later shared on the TV One website.
Phillip Duncan, 'Karen Olsen - My time living on Raoul Island' Weather Watch website. Loaded 24 July 2011. Accessed 21 March 2016
'Why weather presenter Karen Olsen really left TVNZ - weekends' - The NZ Herald, 30 November 2015
'Karen Olsen's 22 year showreel: 'Thank you very much, goodnight and goodbye'' (Video) One News website. Loaded 16 November 2015. Accessed 21 March 2016
'Jim Hickey's sweet and funny farewell tribute to 'dear friend' Karen Olsen' (Video) One News website. Loaded 16 November 2015. Accessed 21 March 2016
'One News Weather Team Announced' (Press Release). Date unknown
'MetService New Zealand' Facebook page. Entry loaded 17 November 2015. Accessed 21 March
Unknown Writer, 'First live winter broadcast from Antarctica tonight' Dan News website. Loaded 18 August 2010. Accessed 21 March 2016