Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15

Dozens of firefighters are continuing to battle a huge blaze in Christchurch's Port Hills that has forced the evacuations of more than 100 households in the area.

The fire, which began on Worsley Rd on Wednesday afternoon, continues to rage uncontrolled - fanned by strong winds and high temperatures.

What you need to know

  • The fire is not yet contained, has spread beyond Christchurch's Summit Rd overnight and is burning on both sides of the Port Hills
  • Twenty-eight trucks, 15 choppers and two fixed-wing aircraft have been deployed on Thursday
  • More than 100 homes have been evacuated 
  • The public has been asked to stay away from Port Hills and stay off nearby roads
  • A second blaze earlier broke out near the Selwyn town of Rolleston but was quickly contained by firefighters
  • Residents should keep windows and doors shut, Te Whatu Ora says. Pets should also be kept inside inside. Look out for children, older people and others at risk, Health New Zealand says.

This article is no longer being updated.

These updates are now closed

8:30pm - Fire and Emergency Canterbury has issued an update: 

Helicopters have finished aerial firefighting for the night, but 23 crews of firefighters will continue to work on the Port Hills fire overnight.

Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Stephen Butler says the crews will be carrying on with structure protection, and will also be working to strengthen the containment lines around the fire.

A shift in the wind is forecast overnight, so residents may notice more smoke, or smoke may be more noticeable in areas that have not been affected today.

Earlier tonight, Commander Dave Stackhouse confirmed that a home on the Port Hills appeared to have been destroyed by the fire. The loss was not immediately apparent due to the nature of the dwelling’s construction. Fire and Emergency will be working with civil defence to provide support to the resident.

The location of some cordons was shifted today to allow a number of evacuated residents to move back home in areas where it has been assessed as safe. The residents know that they may need to leave again at short notice if conditions on the fireground change.

Fire and Emergency is continuing to work with Police to provide managed access for other evacuated residents who are unable to move back home yet. The managed access enables people to check on their animals and carry out other essential tasks during the day. People who need managed access can discuss their situation with Fire and Emergency staff at the community hub located at the bottom of Worsleys Road, daily from 8am.

7:30pm - Christchurch City Council taking donations to support the people of Christchurch, Selwyn and Banks Peninsula affected by the Port Hills fires. 

Donations can be made by bank transfer to the following account: 

Account name: Mayors Welfare Call 

Account number: 02-08656-0070251-002 

All donations will go directly towards supporting people affected by the fire.

6:10pm -The fire is threatening Christchurch's popular Adventure Park,  a mountain bike mecca for locals that's due to host an international event - Crankworx - next month. 

Newshub reporter Nick Truebridge was at the scene saying attention was focused on trying to save the park's facilities. 

Earlier in the day Brad Mosely from Fire and Emergency said the fire had breached into the park. 

"It’s still uncertain how far it has gone down into the park but we are working closely with management in there to ensure that the infrastructure is safe and at this stage there is no damage to any infrastructure." 

The park, majority owned by the city council's development arm, paid out $14m to homeowners after its running chairlift spread the flames.

5:30pm - Newshub weather presenter Heather Keats says there is no meaningful rain heading towards Christchurch, but there could be a few spots of rain. 

Te wind will shift around with the strong norwesterly back on Saturday pushing up temperatures. 

5:00pm - A Port Hills resident has reportedly lost her container home to the fire. Anna Sparks told Stuff her container home was incinerated by the fire.  

Sparks said she was allowed home for a short time on Thursday but she came back to nothing. 

"I was prepared for it,” Sparks told Stuff. “I knew the flames were going to come up and take my place."

4:45pm - Canterbury Police are appealing for photos or video of the Port Hills fire in its infancy. The cause of the fire is not yet known and both Police and Fire and Emergency are investigating.

"We’d like to hear from anyone with photos or videos of the Port Hills between 1.30pm and 5:00pm on 13 February 2024," Canterbury Police said in a statement

"You can send them to us at, clicking “Update Report”. Please reference the case number 240215/0394 and include where and what time the photos or videos were taken."

4:15pm - Fire and Emergency has issued an brief update: 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand says cordons are being shifted in Hoon Hay Valley Rd and Early Valley Rd to the last house on the road. All residents of these roads can now return.

Residents of Worsley Rd who need urgent access to retrieve items from their home will need to go to the community hub at the corner of Worsley Rd and McVicar Rd before nightfall. We cannot grant access after dark. 

4:00pm - A Newshub reporter in Christchurch says it is spitting in the city and the temperature has cooled down. The forecast is for a southerly to come through this evening and assist the battle to contain the blaze. 

3:40pm - Defence Minister Judith Collins has tweeted the NZDF is helping fight the fire. 

3:21pm - Mosby added there is always a risk the fire will spread overnight when the helicopters are grounded. But he added ground crews will be focusing on containing the fire overnight.  While two sheds have been damaged he said no homes have been lost so far. 

3:30pm - Police thanked the community for keeping a distance from the fire following warnings this morning.  

3:15pm - Mosby added even if the fire is extinguished today it will still be days until officials are done and able to leave the site. 

3:13pm - Mosby said current reports say the fire has entered the Adventure Park. He said it's "too early" to determine what started the fire. 

As of lunchtime a total of 650 hectares had been burned. 

3:08pm - Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell said the speed of the response to the fire has been "world-class". Mitchell also complimented the quick decision-making of the local mayors. 

"From my perspective, it's an outstanding response," he said. 

3:06pm – FENZ's Brad Mosby said the fire is likely to be uncontrolled for some time and firefighting efforts will continue into the night and tomorrow. Mosby said currently no houses are under threat or have been lost.  

2:54pm – Officials are about to provide an update.  

2:43pm - FENZ says the fire is still not contained and firefighting efforts are continuing.  

Commander Dave Stackhouse says the fire is still approximately 630 hectares in size. 

"Our firefighters and support crews are working tirelessly in challenging conditions. It is clear this fire is going to be a long-duration incident," Stackhouse said.  

"There are 27 trucks and 14 helicopters in operation, alongside two fixed-wing aircrafts dropping retardant." 

He said some residents have expressed concern about retardant on their properties. 

"We can assure the public it is safe and non-toxic. Fire and Emergency crews will not drop retardant near waterways, Department of Conservation land or organic farms. 

"If you notice any residue on your or around your property, wash it down with a hose." 

A community meeting will be held for impacted residents at 7pm at the Te Hāpua Halswell Centre. 

Stackhouse extended a thank you to the community for their ongoing cooperation. 

"Thank you to everyone for their offers of support and help. Our firefighters are doing a fantastic and tough job, but they are well catered for."  

2:38pm – Officials are providing an update on the inferno at 3pm. The press conference will include Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Police, Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery Mark Mitchell, Christchurch mayor Phil Mauger, Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton, Chairperson of the Joint Committee Neil Brown, National Controller Wendy Wright and Civil Defence emergency staff.  

2:25pm - Officials are due to hold a 3pm press conference providing the latest on the fire. You'll be able to watch the live in the video above.

2:15pm - The below aerial images of the firegrounds have just emerged, courtesy of the NZ Herald's George Heard.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: George Heard/Pool

2pm - As firefighters continue to battle the Port Hills blaze, incredible photos are emerging of the fire.

The incredible photos include shots of smoke billowing into the sky, firefighters fighting the blaze and the fire raging overnight.  

Click here to see all the photos.  

1:44pm - MetService has provided an update on the weather for Christchurch this afternoon.  

Strong northerly winds and high temperatures are expected to remain across Canterbury for much of Thursday, which will hamper firefighter's efforts in battling the blaze.  

But, in some welcome news for the Canterbury area, a southerly change is expected this evening.

1:26pm - One resident of Worsleys Rd, near the Port Hills summit, says she was working from home yesterday when the fire started.

"It is scary and stressful, and we're really hoping that that wind change this afternoon doesn't affect us negatively - that's our main worry at the moment," she says. 

1:15pm - Fire and Emergency says the blaze continues to burn through 630 hectares of land.

1pm - Civil Defence urges Cantabrians to continue staying away from the area around the fire.

"We understand that this situation is upsetting for many people, so please take care of yourselves and look after one another," the emergency management agency says.

12:45pm - Residents from the Port Hills' Early Valley Rd are currently being escorted to their properties by Fire and Emergency crews so they can collect essential items and feed or retrieve animals.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: FENZ

12:40pm - Child Adolescent & Family services remain suspended at Christchurch's Princess Margaret Hospital today, Te Whatu Ora Canterbury says.

"If you have an appointment... please do not go to the hospital in Cashmere Rd," Health New Zealand says.

12:35pm - The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is issuing a warning for those living near the Port Hills.

"Inhaling smoke from fires can pose serious risks for respiratory health, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and individuals with pre-existing... conditions," foundation medical director James Fingleton says. "It can severely exacerbate conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and trigger flare-ups, which can be serious and lead to hospitalisation.

"It's imperative for everyone to recognise these risks, understand how to manage them and actively reduce their exposure.

"That is why it is important that people with asthma or COPD keep their reliever inhaler on-hand if they start to develop symptoms," Dr Fingleton says.

"Research shows that a N95 (or KN95) mask offers the best protection against smoke from wild fires."

12:27pm - Internal Affairs Minister Brooke van Velden is also visiting the firegrounds today.

"I have full confidence in Fire and Emergency New Zealand," she tells Newshub. "Clearly, there is a coordinated effort in the air and on the ground to contain the fire.

"The... volunteer and fulltime firefighters are doing a fantastic job but also partnering with other agencies to make sure it is a coordinated effort for the community."

12:11pm - MetService says strong northwest winds will make a return in Christchurch this afternoon.

Those winds should ease by tonight as a front sweeps in, the forecaster says.

11:52am - Modelling shows smoke from the fire could spread around the South Island and reach as far as Timaru, research firm Scion says.

11:40am - Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell is praising FENZ for its fast response to the blaze.

"They called a local state of emergency quickly and, as a result, they've done a very, very good job of containment," he tells Newshub.

"There's still some challenges there of course... but the concern is obviously with the wind that's coming up again this afternoon.

"It's a big fire, without a doubt - they've got a tough job up there for them but... they know what they're doing and I've got a huge amount of confidence in them."

11:30am - Total property evacuation numbers stand at 103; 80 in the Christchurch City area and 23 in the Selwyn District.

11:24am - The NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi is urging Cantabrians to keep highways and roads clear as much as possible.

"We need as few vehicles and people around in these circumstances as is possible," Canterbury and West Coast system manager Mark Pinner says.

"If you don't have to head out, stay put. The last thing the emergency services need is a traffic jam as they head to a fire."

11:09am - Residents forced from their homes are being briefed with the latest at the Halswell Community Centre evacuation point.

One resident who was affected by the 2017 Port Hills blazes thanked Fire and Emergency for their work, saying the response was much better prepared this time around. This was met by a round of applause from fellow residents.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: Warren Armstrong/Newshub.

11:04am - Fire and Emergency incident controller Dave Stackhouse confirms the blaze has crossed Christchurch's Summit Rd.

"We are aware north westerly wind gusts will be picking up from midday, so our main priority continues to be suppression," he says in a statement.

"Fire and Emergency personnel have been allowing farmers access to manage their stock this morning.

"A cause of the fire is not yet known."

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: FENZ

10:59am - Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell has just disembarked from a helicopter after surveying the damage caused by the fire so far.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: Juliet Speedy/Newshub.

10:56am - The NZ Transport Agency says SH1 south of Christchurch is fully reopen after the Rolleston fire.

"Visibility has improved through the area and northbound congestion is easing," Waka Kotahi says.

Fire and Emergency confirms crews managed to contain the blaze.

"Eight trucks are in attendance and are in the process of mopping up," a FENZ statement says.

"With hot weather and wind forecast for the Canterbury region, Fire and Emergency is reminding the public to be extra vigilant.

"We ask everyone across Canterbury to take great care with any activities that could cause any sparks and start another fire," FENZ incident controller Dave Stackhouse says.

10:51am - The SPCA Canterbury says it's offering support to those affected by the fires.

"We can provide emergency boarding, food and general animal supplies to anyone affected," it says.

"Please contact us... on 03 3497057 over the coming days."

10:45am - People continue to be urged to avoid the Cracroft, Kennedys Bush, Early Valley and surrounding areas of the fire.

"As of this morning, 80 homes have been evacuated as a precaution," a police statement says. "As the situation remains fluid, police continue to block off roads surrounding the fire as and where needed.

"Police urge disaster tourists, those wanting to get close to have a look, to not approach and view from a distance away from the cordons, we need to keep the roads clear for emergency services to easily access the site."

10:27am - The Christchurch City Council says Victoria Park and Halswell Quarry are now closed due to the fire.

10:17am - As Fire and Emergency New Zealand crews fight to contain the blaze, authorities have sent stern warnings to "disaster tourists" making an already dangerous task even riskier.  

"People are going into the area to have a look and they are making it very hard for all those involved in the firefighting," Insp Ash Tabb told an earlier news briefing.

"Let the firefighters do their job and let the community enter the area if required."  

Read more here.

Smoke from the Rolleston fire blows across SH1.
Smoke from the Rolleston fire blows across SH1. Photo credit: Nicola Grigg/Facebook

10:05am - Newshub understands the Rolleston fire has now been contained.

The fire caused the temporary closure of the Manion Rd rail line.

"It has now re-opened," a KiwiRail spokesperson says.

"Two freight services were affected."

9:47am - SH1 northbound between Berketts and Robinsons Rds is now down to one lane due to the Rolleston fire.

"Visibility remains low throughout the area," Waka Kotahi says. "Take extra care and expect northbound delays through the area."

9:37am - The NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi is urging motorists travelling on State Highway 1 south of Christchurch to take care due to smoke from the Rolleston fire.

9:35am - Newshub has just received the below statement from Fire and Emergency New Zealand:

"Fire and Emergency New Zealand was alerted to a grass fire threatening structures in Rolleston, Selwyn at 8:54am this morning.

"Four trucks and one tanker are responding."

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: Joe Morgan/Newshub.

9:28am - A second fire has broken out in Canterbury, on Manion Rd in the Selwyn town of Rolleston, a Newshub camera operator at the scene says.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: Joe Morgan/Newshub.

9:15am - Speaking from the entrance to the Christchurch Adventure Park, Newshub senior reporter Nick Truebridge says it appears the flames have breached the entrance to the facility.

Authorities earlier told reporters the fire was on the border of the Adventure Park.

9am - NIWA says the smoke plume from the fire is visible from space, according to satellite images.

"Northwesterly winds near the ground will keep the plume blowing offshore today but a southerly change around midnight may change that," the forecaster says.

8:42am - With more than a dozen helicopters in the air, Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell earlier sent a stern message to anyone thinking of filming the fire with a drone.

"Do not put drones up," he said at a news briefing. "Do not interfere with that scene because... you can put the pilots in those helicopters and fixed-wings in extreme danger.

"Anyone that thinks that they're going to put a drone up - or interfere with our firefighters and first responders - those actions will be met with serious consequences."

8:38am - Speaking to AM, Newshub senior reporter Nick Truebridge says it appears the fire has spread into the Christchurch Adventure Park.

"We're completely devastated by it, especially after it's only been a few years since the last one," park director John McVicar told the NZ Herald. "We don't have enough information really to have a good assessment of what's happened.

"Until we do we will be able to assess."

8:32am - Temperatures are set to climb to 28C in Christchurch on Tuesday, accompanied by strong northerly winds.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: Pascale van Breugel/Supplied

8:27am - Speaking from near the scene, AM reporter Mitch Redman says it appears the blaze is starting to burn close to the chairlifts of the Christchurch Adventure Park.

8:12am - Climate Prescience director Nathanael says the current conditions in Canterbury are "conducive to wildfire development".

Meanwhile, Scion wildfire expert Shana Gross says conditions are worsening and becoming more extreme each year.

Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: Ryan Burnett/Supplied

8am - During the earlier press conference, Insp Ash Tabb slammed "disaster tourists" flocking to near the scene of the Port Hills fire.

"They are making it very hard for all of those involved in the firefighting," he says, urging people to stay away from the area.

7:40am - Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell reiterates drones must not be used while firefighting efforts are taking place, as they can interfere with helicopters tackling the blaze.

He says anyone who uses a drone will be met with "serious consequences".

Mitchell. Photo credit: Newshub.

7:35am - FENZ's Brad Mosby tells reporters the current size of the blaze is about 630 hectares - a 12km perimeter.

Police continue to urge people to stay away from the area.

7:29am - Officials are about to brief media with the latest on the fire. You can watch it live in the video above.

Helicopters return to the scene on Thursday morning.
Helicopters return to the scene on Thursday morning. Photo credit: AM
Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: AM
Live updates: Latest on Port Hills fire - Thursday, February 15
Photo credit: AM

7:20am - Christchurch City Mayor Phil Mauger tells RNZ no properties have been damaged overnight.

He says the blaze has jumped the Port Hills' Summit Rd.

7:12am - Emergency Management Minister Mark Mitchell has flown down to Christchurch overnight, National deputy leader Nicola Willis tells AM.

7:07am - Fire and Emergency says all of yesterday's roadblocks remain in place and people are asked to stay away.

7:05am - Two helicopters tacking the Port Hills blaze will be diverted this morning to another scrub fire in north Canterbury's View Hill, FENZ says.

7am - Helicopters have re-joined the fight to control a wildfire in Christchurch's Port Hills.

Officials are due to provide an update in about half an hour. You'll be able to watch that live on Three and in the video above.

6:50am - Fire and Emergency New Zealand says today's priorities include continuing to protect houses and working on containment lines.

"Firefighting continued through the night and there were no major break-outs during darkness," it says.

"The next briefing for evacuated residents is at 11am in the Halswell Community Centre."

6:30am - The Port Hills blaze remains uncontrolled and uncontained this morning as firefighting efforts resume.

Speaking from near the scene, AM reporter Mitch Redman says there's still lots of smoke rising above the Port Hills.

The first helicopter redeployed at about 6am.

6:10am - Here's what we know this morning:

A local state of emergency has been declared as the wildfire continues to rage on Banks Peninsula.

More than 100 firefighters, 23 appliances, 13 helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft are back battling the blaze this morning.

The Princess Margaret Hospital and numerous homes have been evacuated.