Sports parks with surfaces as hard as concrete are being revived thanks to the long-awaited arrival of rainfall in Central Hawke's Bay.
CHB District Council's utilities manager Brett Way said it was fair to say some of the district's park surfaces were "rock hard" due to dry weather over the past four months.
"At some of the parks, you might as well be playing on the road because they're that hard. But it's raining today which is all very exciting and I am hoping it's going to improve the situation."
Mr Way said the council had been irrigating its major parks to keep the surfaces in a reasonable condition.
"I want to stress though the only reason we are irrigating is purely to keep the parks injury free, to make them safe for people to play on."
Those which had been irrigated included Russell Park in Waipukurau, home of soccer and hockey in the district and Coronation Park in Waipawa, where Waipawa All-Sports was based.
Mr Way said those parks were on track to meet the start of the winter season on April 6. "We have other parks which we don't have the capacity to irrigate such as the Takapau Recreation Ground, White Domain in Porangahau and Otane rugby ground."
Hastings District Council had also irrigated sports grounds which were being used for organised sport in an effort to deliver a safe playing surface.
Parks manager Colin Hosford said the council had adhered to water restrictions without risking player safety.
"The next few weeks will be crucial in preparing fields for winter sports and we will shuffle codes around their pre-season training venues to ensure rehabilitated fields will have enough time to recover.
Napier City Council's sports facilities manager Andrew White said more rain before winter would help manage the city's park through the winter season.
"We've been dealing with a few clubs around the condition of parks for preseason training and we have responded to some inquiries about the grounds being too hard for training. But we have managed to keep them happy." Napier's McLean Park would host ITM Cup rugby this year, Park Island, Tamatea Park, Taradale Park, Bledisloe Park, Whitmore Park, Maraenui Park, Petane War Memorial Reserve at bayview and Tareha Recreational Reserve near Taradale would host rugby, soccer, hockey and possibly rugby league.
"We've been working to make sure the parks are well managed. It's been a balance of getting enough water on the parks and being a responsible citizen when it comes to the use of water."