South Island farmers forced to sell stock, let crops die in drought

Drought conditions have now spread all the way across the top of the South Island.

It means some farmers are being forced to sell off stock, while water restrictions are forcing horticulturists to let crops die.

Farmers in the area are no strangers to hot, dry weather, but this summer has been something else.

"It's been extremely dry," James Collett told Newshub. "I've been here for probably 15 years, and this will be the driest I've seen it."

While some drizzle fell on Tuesday, it's nowhere near enough.

Minister for Agriculture Damien O'Connor acknowledged the trying conditions for farmers.

"True to form, the best way to break a drought is to announce a drought. And it is raining down there today, but it has been a long period of dry."

Last month, the Government allocated $100,000 to help the South Island Rural Support Trust. On Tuesday it put another $30,000 in the kitty.

"There's insufficient feed, and the Rural Support Trust will be out helping farmers in Buller across to Marlborough, as well as Tasman and Golden Bay," the Minister said.

There could be further relief on the way, with NIWA saying there's a wet front en-route.

"We do have rain in the forecast in western areas over the next several days," meteorologist Maria Augutis said. "Then as we move towards this weekend, especially Saturday, we get some widespread rain across the entire upper South Island."

While that rain is a good thing, too much too quickly can also be problematic. The dirt here is like concrete, so a short, heavy burst could create localised flooding.

Mr Collett says rural communities are doing all they can to support each other until decent rain arrives.