Roys Peak fire in Wanaka could take days to extinguish

A scrubfire that's ripped through 200 hectares on Wanaka's Roys Peak may not be extinguished for two more days.

Fire crews pulled an all-nighter on Wednesday night to protect homes at risk of a raging fire on the outskirts of Wanaka.

The blaze started on Wednesday afternoon on a steep area of Roys Peak, on the western side of Lake Wanaka.

It was classified as a fifth alarm fire, the highest response level for local authorities.

On Thursday eight helicopters remain, attacking the fire using water from Lake Wanaka to dampen hotspots.

Michele Poole from Emergency Management Otago says work will continue once the choppers have done their bit.

"It's actually very deep-seated so [firefighters are] going to have to walk over the ground once the helicopters have finished their work and actually do the really hard yards."

However, she says the danger is mostly over.

"It's calm and cool here which is making quite a difference."

At around 3am on Thursday police and fire crews prepared to evacuate 30 homes close to the area, as well as visitors to the Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park.

However, conditions changed an hour later meaning evacuations were not necessary.

Principal rural fire officer Graeme Still says they are still taking "a very cautious approach".

Roys Peak fire in Wanaka could take days to extinguish
Photo credit: Otago Civil Defence and Emergency

The Roys Peak Track and Spots Creek Track are closed.

Man charged over drone above fire

A man has been charged after a drone was flown over the huge fire.

Police say eight helicopters battling the blaze were grounded for 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoon when the drone was spotted.

The operator was located and arrested, and the drone seized.

A 33-year-old man is due to appear in Queenstown District Court next Monday charged with endangering a transport facility.

Ms Poole says it was "stupidity".

"We certainly understand people's desire to have a good look but frankly you can stand on your front doorstep and see what's happening here. There's no need to put up a drone."

Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell, the Wanaka area response manager, says flying a drone where helicopters are working is reckless.

"It's a timely reminder for drone operators to think before they fly," he said.

"Not only did the grounding of the helicopters cost money and valuable time in the efforts to extinguish the blaze, it put the safety and lives of the helicopter pilots at risk."

NZN / Newshub.