A total fire ban is in place in Otago, as the region faces a drier-than-usual January.
The ban, which only excludes the Caitlins, comes into force today and could extend for about three months if necessary.
Partial restrictions were already in place over the Christmas period, which is one of the busiest times of year for fires.
Otago principal rural fire officer Stephanie Rotarangi the total ban covered any fires in the open air, and the only flames allowed were from gas barbecues.
Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes and the Waitaki districts were facing the driest conditions in more than seven years, she said.
Fire-risk weather was predicted to worsen until the end of March, but fire officers would monitor it daily and release the ban as soon as possible.
"It could potentially be a very long fire ban but it's very hard to tell," she said.