Lake Ōhau village residents have described the hallowing impact of the forest fire on Sunday as 'a war zone'.
The fire roared through Lake Ōhau village in the Mackenzie region early on Sunday morning, destroying up to 50 homes and killing over 300 livestock.
Thirty-three hours after fleeing, 50 Lake Ōhau village residents were allowed to see their homes for the first time.
"I've seen what's not my house any longer, it is completely gone and some of my neighbours - strangely a couple nearby are still standing. It is a blackened mess," resident David Stone said.
Resident Janet Brown was devastated by the impact.
"It was a terrifying night. The winds were so strong… It can be very fierce but it was particularly bad and I couldn't sleep, no one could sleep, it was that bad. I heard a siren which I'd never heard before and I knew something was not right."
"It's our only home, we don't own a home, this is it. We built it with our own hands. We lived in caravans with our children, we built it, we spent three years building it. Our hearts and souls went into it. Our kids call it home and it's all gone. Everything. We don't have another home," she said.
The Barn at Killin Bed & Breakfast co-owner Hugh Speirs said the soul had been ripped out of the village.
"When we got into the village itself it was just like unreal, it was like some nuclear bomb had destroyed our lives. These homes were unrecognisable, the soul had been ripped out of the village."
"It was horrible like you can't describe it. With the helicopters flying around it sounded like a war zone."