Dry conditions are worsening in Northland, with a new report showing much of the eastern part of the region is now affected.
NIWA's weekly soil moisture report assesses severely to extremely dry conditions.
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Regions experiencing these soil moisture deficits are deemed 'hotspots' with persistent hotspot regions having the potential to develop into drought.
In its latest report NIWA said soil moisture levels generally decreased slightly during the past week in the North Island.
However the exception was Northland where the drying was more substantial.
It said the previous hotspot in the Far North has expanded in size during the past week, now encompassing much of the eastern Far North and the Aupouri Peninsula.
Another small hotspot remains in place in Kapiti Coast and coastal Horowhenua.
Conversely, there was slight soil moisture improvements in Taranaki.
The driest soils across the North Island compared to normal for this time of the year were found in the Far North, while the wettest soils for this time of the year are located in East Cape, interior Bay of Plenty, and a portion of Hastings.
NIWA said soil moisture levels generally decreased slightly in most locations in the South Island, although small improvements were observed in Tasman and Buller District during the past week.
The driest soils across the South Island compared to normal for this time of the year were found in Nelson, Tasman, and Buller District, while the wettest soils for this time of the year were found near Kaikoura and north coastal Otago.
A hotspot remains in place across Nelson and nearby portions of Tasman, but no other South Island hotspots are in effect at this time, the report said.