Northland suffers under drought-like conditions

The Northland economy is suffering as dairy farmers stop milk production and cull their herds in drought-like conditions.

The hot, dry weather is also hurting wildlife, with kiwis struggling to survive without water.

One 10-day-old kiwi chick was dehydrated and disoriented but lucky enough to be taken to the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre.

"This little feller was struggling on the edge of the road and it's really just a direct result of the hot weather, drought conditions that we're getting. Little streams that used to be there aren't there at the moment," Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre's Robert Webb says.

On Friday the bird couldn't stand up because of dehydration. Food is also scarce, and the ground's so hard it's a struggle to pull up worms.

And farmers are paying the price too. A downpour a week ago produced deceptive green shoots but the roots are still brittle.

The summer rainfall in the region is about 20 percent of average, which is forcing Terence Brocx and other farmers to cull their herds and stop milking some cows, a practice known as "drying cows off", which may happen more if dry conditions continue.

"We will dry more cows off and what we'll aim to do is have a core group of cows that we can take forward should it rain. But our lighter cows and our lower producing cows will certainly be dried off," Mr Brocx says.

The dry conditions are already affecting the local economy. Mr Brocx has shut his chequebook by cancelling contractors he'd booked for already overdue repairs and maintenance.

And there's worse news for Northland. NIWA is forecasting at least another week of hot, dry weather.