South Island waterways face record low levels despite winter

Despite brief rain in recent days, some waterways across Canterbury are still hovering around record lows for this time of year.

A drought was declared in the Hurunui District in March, while several other areas are struggling with dry conditions.

NIWA principal scientist Chris Brandolino said it takes "multiple rainfall events over several weeks and months to turn things around".

A combination of Canterbury's back-to-back days of sunshine and lack of rainfall is not only evident in the baked countryside but also in nearby waterways.

"River flows across much of the South Island are certainly below normal and in some places significantly below normal," Brandolino said.

The top of the South Island, the east of the South Island, as well as eastern Otago, are experiencing dry soils and low river flows for this time of year.

Hailed the wet season, winter is the time to recharge dry soils, but already two weeks in, it's failed to deliver.

That's potentially putting pressure on the next growing season come spring.

"We're not really walking into the wet season on a really strong note on the rainfall perspective," Brandolino said

Significant rainfall forecast late this week is unlikely to change that.

Brandolino said the problem was some of that rainfall could potentially be more than what we want, which could cause flooding as it runs off dry soils.

Some lakes are also suffering.

Meridian said it's prudently managing its main storage, Lake Pukaki, which sits at 76 percent average, by asking Tiwai Point smelter to dial back production to reduce demand last week.

"Hopefully by the time we enter mid-July, there could be hopefully a meaningful dent put into this situation."

A result only rendered by rain.