Helicopters are back in the air at Lake Ohau in Canterbury - where a fire has ravaged up to 50 structures.
Eleven choppers that had been fighting the blaze stood down at nightfall while further properties were evacuated as a precaution.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) says eight crews are being deployed to the fire front on Monday to continue with the ground attack.
Civil Defence Minister Peeni Henare is in the area assessing the damage.
Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher told The AM Show it was a tough time for residents.
"For those permanent residents there, losing everything they own, it's a very tough time," he told host Duncan Garner.
"There is a lot of sadness and a lot of despair."
He told RNZ's First Up the "majority" of houses in Lake Ohau had been destroyed.
Speaking from near the fire grounds, Newshub reporter Annabelle Tukia said helicopters had re-commenced tackling the blaze on Monday morning.
"There's been a huge outpouring of grief for the people of this town that have been affected by the fire," she told The AM Show.
"It is a very idillic part of New Zealand - what we have heard overnight and from yesterday that this is a town that was prepared for something like this. They had an incredible evacuation plan in place - everyone got up and they got out and that is what has saved people.
"We've had strong northwest winds and we're expecting them again today [Monday]."
Federated Farmers High Country pastoral chair Simon Williamson said livestock will have perished in the blaze.
"I do hear that there have been more and more lifestyle blocks up around there that the fire's gone through that there are some pretty badly singed-up animals," he told Newshub on Sunday.
"Until we've been up there and had a bit of a look we won't know the broader details on that yet.
"It's devastating for farmers because no-one knows when it's going to stop - we've still got high winds."
Williamson said everyone is desperate to get back to their properties to assess the damage.
Responders were called to the blaze shortly after 3am on Sunday morning. Fueled by strong winds, the fire tore through the Mackenzie Basin, destroying multiple homes.
"I imagine it would have been very frightening but we were lucky to get them out and get them to safety," FENZ central and north Otago area manager Keith McIntosh said on Sunday.
Four fire appliances remained active at the scene overnight.
Meanwhile, at least four homes have been evacuated as crews battle a bush blaze in the Far North, as FENZ personnel worked to contain several fires throughout the country on Sunday.
The blaze on Ngakoroa Rd in Ahipara is about 40 percent contained, with more firefighters due back this morning.
FENZ says Tasman crews will also inspect a now contained forest fire on Abel Tasman Dr on Monday morning, while another blaze that broke out in Southland's Livingstone has now been contained.