Drought conditions hit West Coast

The "famously wet West Coast" has had a hot and dry start to summer which has left the Grey and Buller districts in drought.

The medium-scale drought classification has been extended to the two West Coast districts and they are the first additions for the South Island.

Just before Christmas, regions in the lower North Island reached the same drought classification.

While last week's rainstorm left parts of coastal New Zealand drenched, the famously wet West Coast has been struggling through an unusually hot, dry start to summer and missed out on the much-needed rain, says the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O'Connor.

"On the back of an extremely wet winter that left many farmers unable to grow pasture or crops for spring, the early and unusual dry start to summer turned West Coast pastures from swamp to concrete.

"It was agreed that while farmers needed to plan for the worst, there was hope that the forecast rainstorms could break the drought before central government assistance became necessary," he said.

However, the Grey and Buller districts now meet the criteria for a medium-scale event.

The Government is keeping a watch on neighbouring areas, including Murchison, which have also missed out on the rain.

The medium-scale classification gives the local Rural Support Trust and other recovery organisations a funding boost of up to $50,000 to help serve their communities.