A scrub fire took over 200m2 of a gully before firefighters managed to beat it back, near Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands.

Four fire service trucks and a helicopter from the rural fire service raced to the blaze this afternoon, on Ranui Rd in Karetu.

Northern Fire Communications shift manager Scott Osmond said, at its peak, the fire was burning across an area around 200m2.

"The callers said it was grass and gorse on fire, and it's spreading.

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"They said it was about the size of a couple of tennis courts, but it's spreading down a gully now."

The flames have now been put out, with one unit still in attendance to dampen down hot spots.

Neighbour Mercedes Stevenson said the fire started on a neighbour's property, with what was thought to be an unattended bonfire.

She first spotted the smoke around 1pm, and called a neighbour.

They tried to put it out, but it was soon clear the Fire Service needed to be called.

"We just did all our gorse, so everything is pretty dry.

"Our fire ban has only just been lifted, and it's fire by permit only at the moment.

"We've just come out of a three month drought."

Stevenson said the Fire Service were quick to respond, working well despite tough conditions.

"The helicopter pilot is doing an amazing job because he's got the gum trees as well as the power lines to deal with.

"So I'm very impressed with him."