Wildfire warning for New Zealand as hot air mass heads over from Australia

Fire and Emergency have issued a wildfire warning and temperatures are set to rise.
Fire and Emergency have issued a wildfire warning and temperatures are set to rise. Photo credit: Getty Images (file)

New Zealanders are being warned of a high wildfire risk as a hot air mass makes its way over from Australia.

Fire and Emergency (FENZ) issued the warning on Sunday, urging people to stay cautious as temperatures are expected to reach 33C next week.

Areas at the most risk include Northland, Auckland, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago.  

FENZ Wildfire Manager Tim Mitchell says the air mass will bring "very warm temperatures" and "gusty winds in some places".

"These conditions will drive up the fire risk, particularly on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, especially in those areas which are already dry and experiencing elevated fire danger," Mitchell said. 

He said fires could start quickly, spread quickly and pose a serious threat to life and property. 

"We are calling on the public to be extra vigilant over the coming days. Many areas already have restricted or prohibited fire seasons in place," he said. 

Mitchell warned activities such as mowing, operating machinery, cutting, or welding steel can be hazardous if done in or near dry grass.  

He recommended the activities should be carried out during cooler parts of the day. 

"Devices that use heat such as barbecues, fish smokers, and gas cookers have controls around where and how they can be used, depending on the area you live."

FENZ recommends people visit checkitsalright.nz to check the safety of their activity outdoors. 

"Don't be that person who ignores the advice and starts a damaging wildfire," he said. 

Mitchell warns even those living in low-risk areas of the country shouldn't be complacent. 

"The public needs to understand that lower risk doesn't mean no risk. Even smaller wildfires can have a significant impact on communities," he explained. 

"We need everyone to play their part in helping keep their communities safe from wildfires." 

The wildfire warning comes as MetService predicts parts of the South Island's east coast will soar to 33C in the coming week. 

Christchurch is expected to reach a high of 28C on Sunday, with high temperatures forecast over several days, peaking at 31C on Tuesday.  

Blenheim is also forecast to get to 28C on Sunday, however is set to reach highs of at least 30C for the following four days, soaring to 33C on Tuesday.  

The high temperatures are coming slightly early for Ashburton, with Monday's high expected to reach 33C. 

Temperatures forecast for major New Zealand centres:   

  • Auckland: Sunday: 23C, Monday 25C, Tuesday: 27C   
  • Hamilton: Sunday: 23C, Monday 27C, Tuesday: 28C   
  • Tauranga: Sunday: 25C, Monday 27C, Tuesday: 26C   
  • Wellington: Sunday: 20C, Monday 23C, Tuesday: 22C   
  • Christchurch: Sunday: 28C, Monday 29C, Tuesday: 31C   
  • Dunedin: Sunday: 26C, Monday 29C, Tuesday: 26C   
  • Queenstown: Sunday: 19C, Monday 25C, Tuesday: 22C