Northland's water shortage reaches crisis point in worst drought on record

A Northland mayor says the region's water shortage has reached crisis point.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) was mobilised on Tuesday, amid growing fears Kaitaia and Kaikohe could completely run out.

The NZDF arrived to a very dry Kaitaia, where personnel are tasked with distributing thousands of litres of water.

Mayor John Carter says it's a sign of how severe this water shortage really is.

"This is as probably as serious as it gets, this is the worst drought we've had on record," Carter says.

Much of the drought-stricken region hasn't seen any decent rain since November.

Locals now face severe water restrictions and are told they have to conserve every last drop.

The NZDF will spend Wednesday filling up water tanks then taking the water out to isolated communities. The water will go to those deemed most at risk.

"In some situations, they've already run out so we're trying to replenish them as much as we can," says Josh Gaul-Crown from the NZDF.

Kaitaia itself is largely reliant on surface water to supply the town, from the likes of rivers and streams.

"Rivers are the lowest they've ever been. We're getting about 30 percent of the take that would normally be low," says Carter.

Carter says the council is working overtime to find solutions for towns throughout Northland, and it's a race against time.

"It's getting close to running out in ten days or so," he says.

"If we keep taking at the rate we are we could run out of water in the streams which is significant."

For locals it's frustrating.

Newshub spoke to a number of people today who told us officials have been too slow to act, and they're worried.

The council told Newshub it's now in the process of finding new supply lines to the towns, but that is likely to take weeks.

It seems the Defence Force may be here for some time.