Sunhats, sunblock, and ice cream as Christchurch hits 32 degrees, crews battle large scrub fire

Sun hats, sunblock and ice creams were the order of the day in Christchurch on Thursday.

It reached a blistering 32C, as a warm north-west wind kept fire crews on high alert.

As the sun rose, so did the mercury, and Cantabrians flocked to the seaside to settle in for a scorcher. 

But the heat, north-west winds and low humidity created the conditions for extreme fire danger.

By 6am, crews were already fighting a blaze in Kirwee, on the outskirts of Ōtautahi.

"We've got approximately 40 personnel on site, including two helicopters here and support crew," said incident controller Hamish Sheppard.

"We're looking at the fires probably somewhere around 5-10 hectares [in size] at the moment."

Crews stayed on scene throughout the day because the tinder-dry conditions had put Fire and Emergency on high alert.

"Yesterday, Canterbury went into a restricted fire season - which is fires by permit only. That gives me some control measures," said Canterbury district commander Dave Stackhouse.

"But obviously as things dry out then we can monitor, and we'll more than likely be going into prohibited - which means no fires."

Fire crews were kept busy battling a large scrub fire in Kirwee, on the outskirts of Ōtautahi/Christchurch.
Fire crews were kept busy battling a large scrub fire in Kirwee, on the outskirts of Ōtautahi/Christchurch. Photo credit: Newshub.

Closer to town, the temperature tipped 32C by mid-afternoon.

"We found some shade just to get away from the heat but still be able to enjoy the sun," said one local.

And people were enjoying the water in their droves, but those who didn't want to swim spent the day on it instead.

"We've had a lot of wind, so it's really nice to be out on a lovely day," another local told Newshub.

Residents of Golden Age Retirement Village knew how to cool off. 

"Hydration is the most important part for our residents," said Adrienne Herbert, who manages the village.

"If they become dehydrated they can become very susceptible to falling and other health issues," she told Newshub.

Even the animals at Orana Park enjoyed an icy treat. 

And other parts of the country sizzled as well, with Oamaru reaching 32C.

Further north, it wasn't quite as warm, but people in Wellington also enjoyed a beach day and those in Auckland didn't miss out either.

It's just the beginning of a spell of hot weather that'll last throughout the weekend.