Australian bushfires: Second wave of smoke to hit New Zealand on Wednesday

A second plume of smoke from the Australian bushfires is set to hit New Zealand this week. 

A state of emergency has been declared for New South Wales and the threat level is at catastrophic, the highest possible. 

More than one million hectares of land have been burned, with Rainbow Flat, south of Port Macquarie, suffering the most. 

The fires have already claimed three lives. Another five people are still missing. 

On Monday, many residents are returning to destroyed homes - with Rainbow Flat couple Peter and Lynne Iverson's property lying in ruins. 

"It's only things. We've got family and we've got our lives," said Peter Iverson.

"I just found out one of our dogs was found on our bed, burnt to death. Another one of our dogs was taken to the vet severely burned," said one distraught local.

New fires are likely, even when the worst of the bushfires pass. Smouldering embers can last for days, and it only takes a gust of wind to start a brand new blaze.

Catastrophic conditions have been forecasted for Tuesday across New South Wales.

As Australia braces for another black day, New Zealand firefighters are bracing themselves for possible deployment to help combat the bushfire emergency.

What do Australia's bushfires mean for New Zealand?


According to fire scientist Grant Pearce, the smoke from the Australian fires is responsible for some amazing New Zealand sunsets, eerie daytime light conditions and false smoke reports believed to have been local fire outbreaks.

NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll said plumes of smoke and dust from the bushfires will be blown eastbound toward New Zealand, with the next plume due to hit the North Island on Wednesday.

Noll recommended New Zealanders who are sensitive to fine particulates to take extra care by closing windows and not running their air conditioner. 

"Given the strong winds in the New Zealand region over the next week, no dust or smoke is expected to sit over the country for a prolonged period - each plume generally takes about 12 hours to pass across a given island," he told Science Media Centre (SMC).

Pearce said climate change is expected to make New Zealand's bush fires worse. 

"Research has shown that fire risk in New Zealand will likely increase with climate change, with a greater frequency of severe fire weather days in many parts of the country - in some cases by 2-3 times current levels," he said.

"This means the potential for not only more fires, but more larger fires exhibiting the sorts of extreme fire behaviour seen in Australia and California.

"There is also the potential for our fire climate to worsen significantly in future, bringing an increase in the number of fires, including extreme fire events such as those currently being experienced in NSW and Queensland."