Weather: Far North farmers nervously await rain as parts of district in severe meteorological drought

Paddocks dry from the Northland drought in 2020.
Paddocks dry from the Northland drought in 2020. Photo credit: RNZ

Farmers in the Far North are nervously awaiting some rain as dry weather intensifies in the region.

NIWA reports parts of the district are in severe meteorological drought and the region's farming leaders are meeting this week to discuss what could happen next.

Northland Rural Support Trust chair Chris Neill said the extremely dry conditions in some areas was partly a carryover from last year's drought.

"We are collecting information from our contacts across the region so we get a much clearer localised view of it," Neill said.

"It would appear some parts of the region is ticking along all right, they are experiencing what we call a typical Northland dry and others are more extreme conditions than that."

"The areas that appear to be hit hardest is up the east coast from Whangārei and also up and around the Far North near Kaitaia."

Beef farmer Chris Biddles has an Angus stud on Pouto Peninsula, south west of Dargaville, and said they were very dry but coping and in a much better position than last year.

"We went into the summer with a bit better cover than last year and we also had a lot more hay and balage than last year so we are in a far better position than we were 12 months ago," he said.

However, Biddles said the water table is very low.

"We have only had two years where we have reached our 35-year average in the last nine years so for seven we have been below our yearly average."

Biddles said on the farm, it meant they had to be careful with the water supply.

If there was not any rain soon, the dry situation would be manageable with the amount of supplementary feed available, he said.

"They [farmers] weren't able to make it last year so a lot of us had to buy it, we spent $70,000 on getting it as far away as Northland.

"But I think we are in a lot better position than last year."