Prepare for rat plague as numbers explode across New Zealand

There's bad news for Kiwis this winter - prepare for a rat horde as hungry rodents head indoors.

Rat numbers have exploded across New Zealand after a long and dry summer. The ideal breeding conditions have caused a massive spike in population growth, and they're coming for us.

Direct Pest Control owner Doug Morris told Radio NZ he's met residents in Auckland's Remuera too afraid to go outside due to the number of rats.

"It's not the home owners' fault, it's just an older Auckland area, with lots of bush, lots of gullies, a lot of rat habitat," he says.

A female rat can have five litters a year and each litter can be up to 14 babies. The babies themselves start breeding at just a few months old.

Conservation groups are battling the plague of rodents as they destroy our environment. Rats are a threat for our native birds, insects, geckos and plants - including species like the yellow head and orange-fronted parakeet.

They're also predicted to cause chaos to our food supply as they chew on crops.

During a previous rat plague, market gardener Sam Stacey told Newshub the biggest problem is with pumpkins.

"They'll get in to them, they'll nest in them, they'll eat a whole pumpkin out - it's disgusting," he said.

And an exterminator also told Newshub winter is always a problem, and recommends keeping branches trimmed off roofs, food in secure compost bins or on the ground to a minimum.

If overrun, call the professionals.