TVNZ1 weather presenter Dan Corbett with the latest update.
Some say it's a stony smell, others say sweet. But we all know what it is: That distinctive earthy scent in the air just before and after fresh rain.
It's a phenomenon called petrichor, and we're instinctually programmed to love it, MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths told TVNZ1's Breakfast today as she answered a question from a viewer.
"A lot of people can't describe it but they actually really like it," she said. "And it's historical, we have an affection for this smell because originally it was survival. We relied on rain to live."
The smell, which is especially distinctive when the rain is just about to break a dry spell, is the result of oil in rocks that becomes an aerosol when humidity in the atmosphere reaches just about the same point that causes rain, she said.
The term petrichor, a reference to the blood of Greek gods, was coined by Australian scientists in 1964 who did a series of studies about what caused the smell.
"Basically, they tested in the lab -- they steamed distilled rocks from the Australian outback or somewhere nice and dry to see what would happen," she said. "And they identified what the smell was. It was actually a yellow oil that came out of the rocks."
Since then, some enterprising amateur geologists have tried to bottle the oil in attempts to make money off our natural affinity for the smell, Ms Griffiths said.
"I'm not sure if they were successful," she said.